Modelling epidemiological and economic consequences of bovine respiratory disease in dairy heifers

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<p>Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is an important health problem in dairy heifers. BRD causes considerable losses, particularly on farms that experience high levels of the disease. However, an exact quantification of the economic losses due to BRD was not available yet. Despite this lack of economic insight, dairy farmers have to make decisions with regard to prevention of the disease. To make these decisions as economically sound as possible, more accurate insight is necessary into the economic consequences of BRD on the individual dairy farm.</p><p>The main objective of the research project described in this thesis was to obtain insight into the on-farm economic consequences of BRD in dairy heifers by means of a PC-based simulation model. The second objective was to collect information on the epidemiological consequences of the disease indispensable for model input.</p><p>The research started with a literature review aimed at obtaining the necessary qualitative and quantitative information on both the effects of BRD on the productivity of dairy heifers and risk factors of the disease. Because relevant literature turned out to be scarce, a formal expert judgement study was held to obtain additional data on the(se) variables of interest.</p><p>As a next step, a simulation model was developed that calculates the economic losses due to BRD in dairy heifers for individual dairy farm conditions in the Netherlands. Following the results of the expert judgement study, the model distinguishes between two BRD types, being calf pneumonia and a seasonal BRD outbreak.</p><p>Model calculations showed that for most dairy farms in the Netherlands the economic losses due to BRD will be relatively small: around 1 % of the farm's net return to labour and management for average situations, increasing up to 3-4 % at worst. For individual farms that experience high levels of BRD, the associated losses can be as high as 10-15 % of the farm's net return to labour and management, up to 25 % for large farms. Besides for calculation of the economic losses due to BRD, the model showed also to be useful for evaluation of the on-farm cost-effectiveness of prevention of the disease. Moreover, the model is flexible and user-friendly, hence, can be used as a tool to support decision-making in dairy practice.</p>
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Dijkhuizen, A.A., Promotor, External person
  • Huirne, R.B.M., Promotor, External person
  • Verhoeff, J., Promotor, External person
Award date21 Dec 2001
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789058085375
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • dairy cattle
  • heifers
  • cattle diseases
  • respiratory diseases
  • dairy farms
  • cost analysis
  • dairy performance
  • computer simulation
  • simulation models
  • epidemiology
  • agricultural economics
  • netherlands

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