Protocol for drying off dairy cows

The most successful drying off procedures happen after a cow has been milked for the last time and not during milking or carrying out hoof trimming as this can lead to teats becoming contaminated.

Process of drying off cows

Drying-off protocol

To achieve a successful drying off procedure, shed cows to be dried off after their last milking so they can be easily brought back into the parlour after it is cleaned down. Do not carry it out during milking, or trim tails and hooves when drying off, because there is a serious risk that teats will become contaminated.

Regardless of the choice of dry cow therapy, it is important to be as sterile as possible when administering dry cow therapy to avoid introducing infection into the teat. Poor infusion technique can cause damage to the teat canal and increases the risk of mastitis, which can result in cows dying.

Watch our videos about drying-off protocols

Before antibiotic

  1. Identify cows to be dried off; for, example with stockmarker spray on her leg.
  2. Wash arms and hands clean. Wear a fresh pair of disposable gloves and keep clean and dry. Replace gloves frequently, preferably between cows.
  3. Pre-dip each teat using a fast-acting disinfectant; leave on for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Wipe each teat to be dried off with an individual paper towel, paying particular attention to the teat end. Start with the teats furthest away, moving to the closest teat.
  5. Keeping hold of the teat in one hand, wipe the teat and teat end with cotton wool soaked in surgical spirit. Focus on getting the teat end spotless. If there is dirt on the cotton wool after you have cleaned the teat end, repeat with a fresh piece of cotton wool. Do not let go of the teat.
  6. Ideally, an assistant should help prepare the tubes and hand them to you. If using internal teat sealant only, proceed to step


       7. Using a partial insertion technique, infuse the whole antibiotic tube into the teat. Only insert the tube end and maintain gentle pressure to stop the product leaking around the nozzle. Do not let go of the teat.

       8. Without letting go, massage the antibiotic up the teat canal. Slide the hand not holding the tube down the teat after infusing and hold the teat end without touching the teat orifice. This will allow you to massage the contents up towards the udder with your tubing hand.

Teat sealant

       9. When using teat sealant, use the crook of your first finger and thumb to pinch the base of the teat where it joins the udder. The teat will bend towards you. Hold the pinch until the product has been infused into that teat.

      10. Gently infuse the teat sealant until pressure builds up in the teat. Remove the teat sealant tube before letting go of the pinch to avoid sealant being forced up into the udder. Do not massage after infusion.

 Cleanliness of the teat end is critical when infusing teat sealant.

After infusion

      11. After each teat has been infused with the appropriate product, it should have post-milking teat dip or spray applied.

      12. Check that the cow is permanently identified as treated. This reduces the chances of milking a dry cow with antibiotic and causing antibiotic failure.

      13. Allow the cow to stand in a clean yard for at least 30 minutes before moving to dry cow accommodation or pasture.

      14. In pasture-based systems, avoid recently dried-off cows walking long distances immediately after drying-off.

      15. Check udders daily for signs of mastitis.