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Steps for Implementing SDCT
on Small Farms

Small farms have fewer employees to train but need to develop protocols that are quick, realistic, and cost effective. 


Involve your Veterinarian

Involve your veterinarian in the planning process. On smaller dairies, veterinarian presence is not always as prevalent as on larger dairies. It is important that herd veterinarians are involved in this process to ensure  antimicrobial use is appropriate and effective.

For discussion with your veterinarian, you can use this questionnaire to gather your farm information.


Assess herd records

a. Records must be accurate, complete, and timely

b. Clinical mastitis events should be documented

c. Monthly individual animal SCC data is recommended

d. Milk culture records are most accurate for subclinical detection (if possible--contact your veterinarian for a milk culture lab closest to you)


Solidify Dry-Off protocol

a. Make/revise an Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

b. Make available to all pertinent farm employees

c. See National Mastitis Council resources for protocol examples link to (

Sample of dry off protocol can be found here.


compile data

Compile data that is available to help identify animals that need antibiotic treatment at dry off 

a. Culture data from mastitis events

b. If milk culture is not possible then must have accurate herd records. Producers can employ a computer-based algorithm to identify low-risk cows (Vasquez et al., 2019) and other cow-side mastitis-detection methods

  • Monthly SCC test data

  • Culture data 

  • Plans for monitoring cows in the dry period and at freshening to detect new infections 

c. Review all methods with your veterinarian


Cows meeting at least one of the below criteria should receive treatment

 Use all the following criteria for cow selection for receiving dry cow treatment 

a. Cows with more than 2 cases of clinical mastitis during previous lactation or a single case of mastitis that occurred in the past 30 days

b. Cow with DHI test day SCC >200,000

c. Animals with a positive culture at dry off should receive treatment.


Record cows and treatment data

a. Identify and enroll cows systematically using your set criteria (determined in Step 5 above)

b. Accurately record cows - Can use farm data systems (DC305, PCDART, or manual records) to document SDCT cows

c. Consult your veterinarian regularly regarding the enrolled SDCT cows 


  • Cleanliness/hygiene at dry off is ESSENTIAL

  • Cows must be enrolled SYSTEMATICALLY - in accordance with the criteria in your protocol

  • Be sure that milking procedures are well-managed, and employees are consistently trained

  • Use of teat sealants is encouraged 

  • Monitor production levels before dry-off and include production level criteria--which should be set by the farmer, their herd veterinarian, and nutritionist--in dry-off SOP (see the National Mastitis Council “Drying Off Methods” section of this fact sheet)

  • Consider transitioning rations prior to dry-off to facilitate reduced milk production, which should be agreed by the farmer, their veterinarian, and nutritionist

  • “The word is “selective,” not “none”. We still need to treat at-risk cows in the herd (Johnson, 2018).

Use of Internal Teat Sealants in quarters not treated with antibiotics significantly reduces new infections in the dry period (UMNdairy, 2020).

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