Selective Dry Cow Therapy

On 14th June Larkmead ran a meeting on selective dry cow therapy, which is where a farm chooses to dry cows off using (a) just a teat sealant (Orbeseal), or (b) a dry cow antibiotic tube in addition to a teat sealant.

It has been shown that in herds with low bulk cell counts of <200,000 cells/ml using blanket antibiotic treatment resulted in a significant rise in prevalence of intramammary infections in dry period (Bradley and Green 2000, 2001, 2004). The use of selective dry cow therapy – using antibiotics only where necessary at dry off – therefore has significant advantages both from a cost and infection point of view. 

Research shows that we should use individual cell counts to make decisions about the cow’s requirements at dry off.

So if the herd has a bulk cell count of say 125,000 then the threshold for the individual cow can be chosen as 200,000. With this “threshold” any cow with  individual cell counts of <200,000 for the last 3 recordings, and no cases of mastitis in the last 3 months, and no quarters that have been dried off due to a chronic problem, should be dried off using orbseal only.

Here is a table showing a sliding scale of thresholds for the “cut off” for making decisions to use targeted antibiotic dry cow therapy at drying off:

The cut off or threshold chosen should be discussed with your vet, but even if the bulk milk is >250,000 cells per ml, there is still a place for using Orbeseal only in some cows.

We discussed the gold standard method for drying off a cow.

  • Drying off a cow is like doing surgery; you need to ensure everything is clean.
  • Ideally it is done after milking. 
  • Wash your arms.
  • Use clean gloves for each cow.
  • Remove all gross contamination on teats.
  • Pre dip and leave the udder for at least 30 seconds before wiping dry.
  • Then put on another pair of clean disposable gloves before you clean the teats.


TOP TIP: Clean the teats using surgical spirit and cotton wool, rather than the wipes that come in the packet of dry cow tubes. Surgical spirit and cotton wool is available from Larkmead, is very cheap and makes a massive difference.

  • Strip the teat to remove bugs from teat canal.
  • Clean teat end and repeat until cotton wool comes away clean.
  • Gently hold teat and partially insert antibiotic. 
  • Clean teat again far, far, near, near.
  • Seal by pinching teat at the top and partially inserting the orbeseal tube
  • Post dip then stand 30 mins.

We spoke about the order of teats to clean and then tube and the advice is:

  1. Clean far, far, near, near
  2. Abc tube near, near, far, far
  3. Repeat clean far, far, near, near
  4. Orbeseal near, near, far, far

Watch a video here showing the correct Orbeseal infusion technique.