Economic optimization of selective dry cow treatment

C.G.M. Scherpenzeel*, H. Hogeveen, L. Maas, T.J.G.M. Lam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to develop a mathematical model to identify a scenario with the lowest costs for mastitis associated with the dry period while restricting the percentage of cows to be dried off with dry cow antimicrobials. Costs of clinical and subclinical mastitis as well as antimicrobial use were quantified. Based on data from a large field trial, a linear programming model was built with the goal to minimize the costs associated with antimicrobial use at drying off. To enable calculations on minimizing costs of dry cow treatment on herd-level by drying-off decisions in an “average” herd, we created an example herd. Cows were projected on 3 different types of herds, based on bulk tank somatic cell count, and were categorized in groups based on parity and somatic cell count from the last test recording before drying-off. Economically optimal use of antimicrobials was determined while restricting the maximum percentage of cows dried off with antimicrobials from 100 to 0%. This restriction reveals the relationship between the maximum percentage of cows dried off with antibiotics and the economic consequences. A sensitivity analysis was performed to evaluate the effect of variation in the most important input variables, with the effect of dry cow antimicrobials resulting in a lower or higher percentage of clinical and subclinical mastitis depending on being dried off with or without dry cow antimicrobials, respectively, and the milk price. From an economic perspective, blanket dry cow treatment seems not to be the optimal approach of dry cow therapy, although differences between approaches were small. With lower bulk tank somatic cell counts, more dry cow antimicrobials can be omitted without economic consequences. The economic impact of reducing the percentage of clinical mastitis was found to be much larger than reducing the bulk tank somatic cell count. The optimal percentage of cows to be dried off with antimicrobials depends on the udder health situation, expressed as the bulk tank somatic cell count and the incidence of clinical mastitis. For all evaluated types of herds, selective dry cow treatment was economically more beneficial than blanket dry cow treatment. Economic profits of selective dry cow treatment are greater if bulk tank somatic cell count and clinical mastitis incidence are lower. Economics is not an argument against reduction of dry cow antimicrobials by applying selective dry cow treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1530-1539
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • antimicrobial reduction
  • dry cow treatment
  • economics
  • linear programming
  • mastitis

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