The following paper was presented at The Swedish Veterinary Conference 2007.

Introduction - The use of antibiotic dry cow therapy (DCT) and the treatment of intramammary infection (IMI) at drying off has been a cornerstone of mastitis management and control over the past six decades (Bradley, 2002). This use along with the other control strategies outlined in the NIRD Five Point Plan has led to a dramatic change in the incidence and aetiology of clinical and sub-clinical mastitis. This change can be summarised as a decrease in the prevalence of contagious mastitis pathogens and an increase in the importance of the environmental pathogens such as S. uberis and E. coli on the vast majority of well-managed dairy units (Erskine et al., 1988; Barkema et al., 1998; Bradley, 2002). These changes have necessitated a rethink in our approach and our rationale for the use of antibiotics in mastitis control.

This paper briefly reviews the role of the dry period in mastitis epidemiology and, in the light of recent research, the use of both antibiotic and non-antibiotic dry cow therapy in the management of intramammary infection during the dry period.

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