The need for antibiotic treatments in dairy cattle farms can be reduced by a combined intervention scheme based on: (1) timely clinical inspections, (2) the assessment of animal-based welfare parameters, and (3) the use of predictive laboratory tests. These can provide greater insight into environmental adaptation of dairy cows and define animals at risk of contracting disease. In the long-term, an improved disease control justifies the adoption of such a combined strategy. Many antibiotic treatments for chronic disease cases are often not justified with a cost/benefit analysis, because the repeated drug administration does not give rise to the expected outcome in terms of animal health. In particular, compared with untreated cases, antibiotics may not lead to greater cure rates for some forms of mastitis. Lastly, a substantial reduction of antibiotic usage in dairy farms can be achieved through the proper use of immunomodulators, aimed at increasing immunocompetence and disease resistance of cows. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
- Dairy cow