Up to 70% of cases of new intra-mammary infections that occur during lactation originate from the previous dry period¹.

The dry period is the main time at which mastitis infections are acquired on many Irish farms, with infections entering the udder via the teat end.

Although the infection is acquired during the dry period, it does not manifest itself as a case of mastitis (or subclinical mastitis) until lactation begins.

We therefore can attribute many early lactation infections to infection acquired during the dry period.

During the dry period, a keratin plug forms in the teat canal2 and acts as a natural defence mechanism to protect against bacterial infections.

However, this natural protective mechanism is not always effective. Roughly one quarter of lower yielding dairy cows may fail to develop a complete keratin plug in the dry period. Without this barrier, there is a greater risk of bacteria entering the udder3.


The challenges at dry off are not just an Irish problem, but our grass-based system doesn’t make it any easier. With block spring-calving herds, farmers may be faced with a large number of cows to dry off on a given day.

Our grass-based diet generally leads to looser dung consistency, with a dung pat ending as a ‘splat’ rather than a ‘plop’.

The recent implementation of the new veterinary regulations has also meant that the antibiotic safety blanket which was frequently used in all cows will be taken away.

This blanket antibiotic dry cow therapy often covered up for a less than ideal drying off technique and there will therefore be absolutely no room for complacency or poor habits at dry off moving forward.

Achieving a successful dry period requires a holistic approach to dry cow management. MaX10 with Boviseal, a programme recently developed by Zoetis in Ireland, supports vets and farmers to ensure all aspects of the dry period are considered to minimise environmental challenge and optimise the udder’s defences.

The objective of MaX10 with Boviseal is to achieve a successful dry period where uninfected cows do not acquire new infections and where most infected cows are cured.

In other words, the aim is to:

Maximise prevention

No more than of 10% of uninfected cows acquire a new infection during the dry period. Less than 10% of cows with an SCC at dry off below 200,000 cells/ml become cows with a SCC above 200,000 cells/ml at first recording after calving.

Optimise cure rates

More than 85% of cows with an infection are cured during the dry period. Greater than 85% of cows with an SCC above 200,000 cells/ml at dry off have a SCC below 200,000 cells/ml at the first recording after calving.

To join the programme, farmers must be milk recording with results uploaded on the ICBF website.

Key monitoring points:

1. Milk recording within one month of dry off.

2. Milk recording within two months of calving down.

Following the data analysis based on the milk recording results, the veterinary practitioner visits the farm and runs through the MaX10 with Boviseal checklist of 25 yes/no questions, which cover teat preparation, drying off technique, post-drying off care and the tools to monitor performance.

With this information, vets at hand can advise their farmers on areas for improvement.

Some of the key advantages of MaX10 with Boviseal are:

  • Heathier cows: better dry period control => less mastitis.
  • Reduced vet costs: less mastitis => fewer antibiotic treatment.
  • Increased production: fewer antibiotic treatments => less wasted milk.
  • Happier farmers: less wasted milk => increased profitability.
  • Watch the video to learn more on the optimum dry off technique with Boviseal.

    For more information on MaX10 with Boviseal, farmers should contact their vet.


    1Green MJ et al. (2002). Influence of dry period intramammary infection on clinical mastitis in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 85:2589-2599 2Paulrud, C. O. (2005). Basic concepts of the bovine teat canal. Vet. Res. Commun. 29:215–245. 3Dingwell RT et al. (2004). Association of cow and quarter level factors at drying-off with new intramammary infections during the dry period. Prev. Vet. Med. 63, 75-89.

    Boviseal® Dry Cow Intramammary Infusion contains 2.6g Bismuth subnitrate per syringe. Legal category: LM. For further information, please contact your veterinary surgeon or Zoetis, 2nd Floor, Building 10, Cherrywood Business Park, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin, D18 T3Y1. 01-256 9800 or www.zoetis.ie. Use medicines responsibly (www.apha.ie). ZT/22/19/1.