During the recent AHV (Animal Health Vision) webinar on the 2022 changes to the EU legislation, Robert Flahive, a vet based in Listowel, Co. Kerry, spoke about what farmers and vets can expect with the upcoming changes to antibiotic usage.

The blanket use of antibiotic dry cow therapy (ADCT) will no longer be the norm on Irish dairy farms from January 2022, due to changes in EU regulations.

What to expect in 2022

Robert stated that what farmers can expect in 2022, is for vets to be using “a more holistic approach to herd health”.

“Farmers will be recommended to use more vaccinations to prevent issues,” he said.

“Vets will be more strategic in the use of antibiotics, with less antibiotics being prescribed to treat animals.

”There will need to be more engagement regarding the management of the herd between farmers and vets,” he added.

”Meaning increased analysis of herd records between farmers and vets; we cannot rely on antibiotics to cover deficiencies in management.”

Herd health

Looking at herd health from January 2022 onwards, Robert stated: ”The focus will be on prevention rather than treatment, with the use of vaccinations becoming more common on Irish farms.

”The treatment of mastitis is a major source of antibiotic usage on farms, because of this, having milk recording data is important.

”From January 2022, vets will not be able to prescribe farmers dry cow tubes without data to prove that the tube is necessary.

”Vets will not be able to treat a pen of young-stock that may develop respiratory diseases; only sick animals will receive antibiotic treatment.”

Because of this, Robert recommended that farmers should be vaccinating animals against respiratory disease or any other known issues on their farms.

Robert continued: ”All wormers will now fall under the new legislation, so all wormers will be going prescription, as of January 2022.

”Blanket treatment of worms in young-stock or mature cows will not be possible.”


Robert then stated that the economic breeding index (EBI) index should be used to help reduce antibiotic usage, with more of an emphasis on health being required.

”The use of EBI in Ireland has been very successful in improving the levels of production and fertility within the national herd,” he said.

“The EBI needs to focus more on health, with it currently only contributing 2-3% of the total figure – in other countries this figure is between 20-30%.

”Some cows are healthier than others, these cows require less antibiotic treatment – focusing more on breeding from these animals will lower antibiotic usage,” he concluded.