UK5: Reducing antibiotic use

Discussion group to reduce antibiotic use

Summary of final report:
To reduce the use of antibiotics in organic livestock production, the EU-Regulation (EC/834/2007) postulates that “homeopathic and phytotherapeutic remedies shall be used in preference, provided that their therapeutic effect is effective for the species of animal and the condition for which the treatment is intended”. This study presents data from on-farm trials on the effectiveness of a liniment mint oil cream in reducing somatic cells counts in organic dairy cows.

In the UK, treatment of mastitis incidences in organic dairy farms relies largely on antibiotic use. To mitigate the use of antibiotic treatments for controlling mastitis in dairy cows, several farmers use a specially formulated liniment commercial cream containing 35% mint oil. The cream is designed for massage and absorption into the udder and it is used for softening swollen and inflamed udders as well as being used as an oedema preventative at calving time on organic farms. Somatic cells counts (SCC) in milk increase as a result of an immune response to a mastitis-causing pathogen. Mint oil is known to improve blood flow by dilation of the capillaries and it is likely that application of the mint oil cream can enhance the transportation of white blood cells to the udder and thus, can act as a prophylactic measure to prevent mastitis. Here we present results from a participatory research trial which tested the effect of a commercial liniment cream containing 35% mint oil on SCC, following treatment of the udder.

Farmer group meetings were held quarterly during 2013 and 2014 allowing for knowledge transfer about the application of the liniment mint oil cream and communication of potential benefits. To test whether the use of liniment milt oil cream can maintain cows’ SCC at optimum levels in practice, six farmers committed to -but only four succeeded in- participating in an on-farm trial during 2014. According to the experimental protocol, every second newly-calved cow was treated for 4 consecutive days with the commercial liniment mint oil cream (Uddermint®).

Somatic cell count (SCC) data derived through National Milk Records were compared to data from untreated cows (control). When farm data were combined for each monthly recording, SCCs of the treated cows were systematically lower compared to those of the untreated cows; combined farm data across the recordings showed that the overall SCCs of the treated cows were significantly lower (P=0.04) compared to those of the untreated control cows. It is concluded that liniment mint oil cream treatment could act as a complementary on-farm practice to prevent mastitis incidences as indicated by the cows’ SCC, but the mode of action remains to be investigated.


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