Estimating the total costs of rearing a dairy young stock using a simulation model that accounts for calf diseases

N. Mohd Nor, W. Steeneveld, M.C.M. Mourits, H. Hogeveen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstractAcademic


Rearing a dairy young stock provides the future dairy cows. Most dairy farmers are not aware of the rearing costs, consequently the rearing of dairy young stock does not often get the attention it requires. Calculating the distribution of the rearing costs is difficult as the costs interrelate with biological processes. In this study, a calf level simulation model was built (using @Risk adds-on in Excel) to estimate the distribution of the rearing costs in the Netherlands from two weeks of age until first calving. The uncertainties related to calf diseases (calf scours and bovine respiratory disease) such as temporal effects on the growth were included. In addition, growth was modelled stochastically and in a detailed manner by using a two phase growth function. All input for the model was based on scientific literature and expert knowledge (veterinarians and nutritionists). Costs were estimated using 20,000 simulations. The output of the model consisted of non-economic output such as birth weight, first calving age and weight. In addition, the economic output consisted of healthcare costs (prevention costs and treatment costs), feed costs, barn costs, breeding costs and labor costs. The total costs of rearing a dairy young stock were estimated as €1,567 per successful reared heifer and varied between €1,423 and €1,715. Reducing the age of first calving with one month, reduced the total costs ranged between 2.6% and 5.7%. Although the average expenditures for diseases were not high, the rearing costs of a heifer that experienced disease (20% of the simulated heifers) were on average €95 higher than of a healthy heifer. In conclusion, the total costs of rearing a dairy young stock are high. The average costs for healthcare and mortality costs are relatively low. However, the costs for disease cases are considerable, making prevention of diseases during young stock rearing important.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 13th International Symposium on Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventISVEE13 - Maastricht, Netherlands
Duration: 20 Aug 201224 Aug 2012



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