Traditionally, studies which placed a monetary value on the effect of lameness have calculated the costs at the herd level and rarely have they been specific to different types of lameness. These costs which have been calculated from former studies are not particularly useful for farmers in making economically optimal decisions depending on individual cow characteristics. The objective of this study was to calculate the cost of different types of lameness at the individual cow level and thereby identify the optimal management decision for each of three representative lameness diagnoses. This model would provide a more informed decision making process in lameness management for maximal economic profitability. We made modifications to an existing dynamic optimization and simulation model, studying the effects of various factors (incidence of lameness, milk loss, pregnancy rate and treatment cost) on the cost of different types of lameness. The average cost per case (US$) of sole ulcer, digital dermatitis and foot rot were 216.07, 132.96 and 120.70, respectively. It was recommended that 97.3% of foot rot cases, 95.5% of digital dermatitis cases and 92.3% of sole ulcer cases be treated. The main contributor to the total cost per case of sole ulcer was milk loss (38%), treatment cost for digital dermatitis (42%) and the effect of decreased fertility for foot rot (50%). This model affords versatility as it allows for parameters such as production costs, economic values and disease frequencies to be altered. Therefore, cost estimates are the direct outcome of the farm specific parameters entered into the model. Thus, this model can provide farmers economically optimal guidelines specific to their individual cows suffering from different types of lameness.
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.