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J Dairy Sci. 2008 Jun;91(6):2205-14. doi: 10.3168/jds.2007-0573.

The cost of generic clinical mastitis in dairy cows as estimated by using dynamic programming.

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Section of Epidemiology, Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The objective of this study was to estimate the cost of generic clinical mastitis (CM) in high-yielding dairy cows given optimal decisions concerning handling of CM cases. A specially structured optimization and simulation model that included a detailed representation of repeated episodes of CM was used to study the effects of various factors on the cost of CM. The basic scenario was based on data from 5 large herds in New York State. In the basic scenario, 92% of the CM cases were recommended to be treated. The average cost of CM per cow and year in these herds was $71. The average cost of a CM case was $179. It was composed of $115 because of milk yield losses, $14 because of increased mortality, and $50 because of treatment-associated costs. The estimated cost of CM was highly dependent on cow traits: it was highest ($403) in cows with high expected future net returns (e.g., young, high-milk-yielding cows), and was lowest ($3) in cows that were recommended to be culled for reasons other than mastitis. The cost per case of CM was 18% higher with a 20% increase in milk price and 17% lower with a 20% decrease in milk price. The cost per case of CM was affected little by a 20% change in replacement cost or pregnancy rate. Changes in CM incidence, however, resulted from changes in these factors, thus affecting whole-farm profitability. The detailed results obtained from this insemination and replacement optimization model can assist farmers in making CM treatment decisions.

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