‘First of its kind’ product launched to help reduce antibiotic usage in dairy herds

Elanco has launched a new ‘first of its kind’ product to revolutionise the way vets address immune suppression during the transition period of dairy cows.

According to the company, the new product also has the potential to help reduce antibiotic usage at farm level.

The product, developed by Elanco, effectively aids in restoring the cow’s natural defences by increasing the number and restoring function of the primary type of white blood cell that recognise and kill harmful bacteria.

New treatment helps to restore cow’s own natural immunity

Speaking at the launch in Portlaoise today, Elanco’s John Cook explained the importance of adopting a disease prevention approach in the calving period.

The Technical Vet at Elanco said that 60 days before to 30 days after calving, dairy cows experience a dip in their natural immunity.

This leaves them at risk to important diseases such as Mastitis, Metritis and Retained Placenta, he said.

“With serious cost consequences and implications for cow welfare and productivity, this makes the transition period one of the most challenging yet vital periods for vets and dairy farmers to manage.

It’s no secret that a successful transition period is vital for maximising productivity in the next lactation, yet we are still ‘firefighting’ common transition diseases like mastitis rather than focusing on their true cause.

“Vets and farmers are under increasing pressure to adopt a more proactive approach, not least to reduce the use of antibiotics.

“This can be challenging in dairy herds, particularly around calving when cows are susceptible to multiple disease challenges while their defences are low,” he said.

Cook also said that this new treatment helps restore a cow’s own natural immunity and strengthens her ability to defend against infections by a range of mastitis causing pathogens.

Thus helping to protect the cow against mastitis when she needs it most.

Housed dairy cows on silage. Photo O'Gorman Photography.

New approach to immune restoration

Professor Dirk Werling from the Royal Veterinary College in London said that stress in dairy cows during the parturition phase increased the levels of cortisol, the hormone that affects immune response because it suppresses the immune function.

“Stress in cows makes them more susceptible to infection.

Consequently, we need to find new ways to help them develop an effective immune response because old approaches to mastitis treatment are becoming less effective.

“And people are becoming more and more worried about antibiotic residues in food products,” he said.

Prof. Werling also said the solution is to the use the cow’s innate immune system – by increasing the number of primary type white blood cells that kill harmful bacteria.

“Elanco has launched a new product that prevents the dip in neutrophils during parturition”, he said.

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Prof. Werling speaking at the launch

A new approach to immune restoration for dairy cows

Eugene Smyth, Marketing manager, Elanco Ireland, described the product as a new approach to immune restoration.

Smyth said it can be very frustrating to see dairy farmers struggling with the stress and hassle of increased numbers of sick cows during calving.

Reducing the negative consequences associated with immune-related diseases like mastitis could reduce this stress and maximise a herd’s milking potential.

“As concerns about antibiotic resistance rise, vets and farmers are under increasing pressure to help decrease their use.

“Restoring a cow’s own natural immunity is an effective way to help her fight a broad range of common mastitis pathogens,” he said.