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One of the challenges for veterinarians serving the food animal industries is to enhance value for producers whose profit margins have been under considerable economic pressure for the past half century Decreasing profit margins and relative

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

can increase the income received by veterinary practitioners. 1,2 In a study 2 published in 2000, 19 standard business practices were evaluated, which revealed that veterinarians often failed to take advantage of many of these techniques and as a

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary:

Food animal veterinarians recognize the need to economically justify their recommendations regarding whole-herd management programs. An enterprise analysis technique may be used by veterinarians to determine the actual cost of production on beef cattle operations. Enterprise analysis was used on 2 groups of cattle to demonstrate the financial impact of a recommendation to modify the winter-supplementation program of a large ranch. Pregnancy rates improved from 62 to 95% for group-1 cattle and from 75 to 94% for 2 groups of cattle in the 2-year study. Additionally, the calving cycle was shortened and the number of calves born earlier in the calving season was notably increased, which raised the total pounds of calves sold at weaning. These outcomes were realized without additional winter-supplementation expenses for either group. Veterinarians can use enterprise analysis to determine the value of their recommendations, thus allowing them to charge more appropriately for the services provided.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine whether beef herds could increase profitability by reducing production cost per 100 lb (hundredweight [CWT]; ie, 45.4 kg) of calf through implementation of advice from teams of veterinarians and county extension agents supported by university specialists.

Design—Longitudinal study.

Sample Population—6 commercial cow-calf herds comprising 1,927 cows.

Procedure—Teams of veterinarians and county extension agents provided advice on 25 profitable ranch management practices to herd owners for 3 years. Use of each practice in herds was measured on a scale of 1 to 5 for baseline year 1999. Similar measurements were made at the end of each year for comparison with baseline values. Outcomes were measured by standardized performance analysis.

Results—Mean weaning weight of calves per exposed cow of the 6 herds increased significantly from 1999 (2000, 26.8 kg [59 lb; 17%]; 2001, 49.1 kg [108 lb; 31%]; and 2002, 43.2 kg [95 lb; 27%]). Mean cost per CWT of calf decreased significantly from the 1999 value (2000, −$20.04 [−18%]; 2001, −$33.40 [−29%]; and 2002, −$22.52 [−20%]). Additional profits for the 6 herds were $54,407 in 2000, $135,695 in 2001, and $116,089 in 2002 (3-year total of $306,191). Mean increase in management score of herds was positively correlated with increase in net income and accounted for > 60% of increased profits.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Profitability of beef cow-calf operations can be substantially increased through a team approach by identifying opportunities for improvements in management and helping ranch managers implement profitable practices. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:210–220)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Objective—

To develop an economic tool that can be used to help cattle producers evaluate benefits of neonatal health programs.

Design—

Computer simulation of a multiple-year spreadsheet model, using economic and production variables.

Sample Population—

Records for a university research farm beef herd.

Procedure—

Data from the university research farm beef herd for each year from 1990 to 1995 were evaluated to determine economic benefits for the cowcalf enterprise that would result from a decrease in morbidity and mortality. A baseline economic evaluation of returns to variable costs was performed, using actual production and marketing information. Actual economic performance was contrasted with a projected simulation in which morbidity and mortality were decreased. Sensitivity analysis for the simulation model assessment of a neonatal health program was also performed.

Results—

Mean-per-cow increase in net income for the herd during the 6-year period for morbidity and mortality reductions of 20, 40, and 60% was $7.44, $14.93, and $22.42, respectively. Sensitivity analysis revealed that net income per cow was not sensitive to errors in projections of morbidity and mortality.

Clinical Implications—

Identifying potential economic benefits for implementing a neonatal health plan and quantifying the costs to implement each component of the plan can be used by veterinarians and their clients when formulating a proactive strategy to provide the greatest potential for economic reward. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;213:810-816)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary

Seventy-three Colorado cow/calf operations were monitored for calf mortality from birth to weaning as part of their participation in the National Animal Health Monitoring System. Producer-observed causes of calf mortality, and the costs associated with these deaths were obtained. The overall calf mortality during the study was 4.5%, with a total associated cost of $237,478. The mean cost per calf death was $216, of which $208 was attributed to the potential value of the calf and an additional $8 was for veterinary, drug, producer's labor, and carcass disposal expenses. The most commonly reported causes of calf mortality were dystocia (17.5%), stillbirth (12.4%), hypothermia (12.2%), diarrhea (11.5%), and respiratory infections (7.6%). These 5 disease conditions accounted for > 60% of all calf deaths. A cause was not determined for 19.7% of the calf deaths. Beef producers and veterinarians have the potential to decrease calf mortality and increase profits in cow/calf operations by implementing management strategies and herd health programs designed to decrease the number of calf deaths caused by these disease conditions.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
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Summary

Four percent of the total cost of disease in 60 Tennessee cow-calf herds in 1987 to 1988 was attributable to veterinary services, and 2.3% was attributable to the purchase of drugs to treat sick animals. When producers spent money on therapeutic veterinary services, it was most often attributable to diseases of the reproductive system ($0.69/cow annually), especially dystocia ($0.51 /cow annually). When drugs were used therapeutically, the most was spent on products to treat respiratory tract disease ($0.37/cow annually). The cost of preventive veterinary services accounted for 8.8% of the total cost of preventive actions. Pregnancy examinations (considered here as a preventive action) was the most costly preventive service ($0.62/cow annually). The cost of drugs and biologicals used to prevent disease accounted for 69.4% of the total cost of preventive actions, with drugs to prevent intestinal and external parasites being the most costly ($7.79/cow annually). These figures are based on cow-calf herds randomly selected by use of a 2-stage, stratified plan. Herds were visited once a month for 1 year. Results of this study support other work that showed that beef producers perceive veterinarians as primary sources of information on diagnosis and treatment of sick animals and on reproduction/breeding, but less knowledgeable or cost effective in the areas of animal/herd management, feed nutrition, and agribusiness/economics.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Objective—

To determine whether intravenous administration of 6% dextran 70 solution to young calves with severe diarrhea is cost effective.

Design—

Randomized, prospective, clinical trial.

Animals—

22 calves < 2 months old that were hospitalized for diarrhea and that did not have pneumonia.

Procedure—

All calves received antibiotics, were fed by use of an orogastic tube, were supplied with radiant heat, and were given crystalloids, IV, as deemed appropriate by an attending veterinarian. A group of 12 calves also received 500 ml of 6% dextran 70 solution, IV, over a 1-hour period as part of the initial treatment. Data were collected to determine whether early treatment with 6% dextran 70 solution resulted in a similar end cost for treatment because of a decrease in the volume of fluids administered IV, a decrease in antibiotic usage, a decrease in the amount of time hospitalized, or a decrease in mortality.

Results—

Capillary refill times, heart rates, respiratory rates, and rectal temperatures; and scores for dehydration, mucous membrane color, lung sounds, mental status, and suckling response were not different between the 2 groups of calves at admission. Differences were not detected in client charges or in hospitalized time (6% dextran 70 group, $89.68 ± 11.05 and 36 ± 3 hours; control group $88.02 ± 4.93 and 36 ± 4 hours), but those charges did not include costs for the 6% dextran 70 solution.

Clinical Implications—

Use of 6% dextran 70 solution as part of the resuscitation of most young calves with diarrhea requiring hospitalization is not likely to be cost effective. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;209:1714–1715)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary

Nine dairy herds (mean size, 149 cows) with bulk-tank milk somatic cell counts of < 300,000 cells/ml and > 80% of cows with Dairy Herd Improvement Association linear somatic cell counts ≤ 4 were selected for study. Each herd was monitored for 12 consecutive months. Duplicate quarter-milk specimens were collected from each cow for bacteriologic culturing at beginning of lactation, cessation of lactation, and at the time of each clinical episode of mastitis. Streptococcus agalactiae was never isolated and Staphylococcus aureus was isolated from < 1% of all quarters. There were 554 episodes of clinical mastitis. During the year of study, the incidence rate of clinical mastitis varied from 15.6 to 63.7% of cows among the 9 herds. Mean costs per cow per year in herd for mastitis prevention were: $10 for paper towels, $3 for nonlactating cow treatment, and $10 for teat disinfectants. Mean cost associated with clinical mastitis was $107/episode. Approximately 84% ($90) of the costs attributed to a clinical episode were associated with decreased milk production and nonsalable milk. Costs of medication and professional veterinary fees per clinical episode varied Significantly among the 9 herds. Three of the herds did not have a veterinarian treat a clinical episode of mastitis during the year of study even though 2 of these herds had the first and third highest incidence rates of clinical mastitis. When calculated on a per cow in herd basis, mean costs of $40/cow/year were attributed to clinical mastitis. Our findings suggest that herds that have effectively controlled mastitis caused by contagious pathogens may still have substantial economic losses as a result of clinical mastitis and that losses and even rates of clinical mastitis may vary considerably among such herds.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary:

A stratified random sample of 50 Ohio dairy herds, monitored for 1 year between March 1988 and May 1989, was used to estimate the component costs of clinical mastitis per cow-year overall and by organism, the component costs of an episode of clinical mastitis overall and by organism, and the incidence of clinical mastitis by organism. Each herd was visited monthly by a veterinarian who conducted on-farm interviews and completed standardized data-collection forms designed to elicit economic information about the on-farm costs of clinical mastitis and mastitis prevention. Producers collected milk samples prior to treatment of clinical mastitis cases. Culturing methods allowed identification of 18 specific mastitis pathogen classifications. Annual costs estimated were on a per cow-year and clinical episode basis. The monthly mean population of cows monitored was 4,068. Mastitis prevention cost $14.50/cow-year, whereas the cost incurred by producers because of clinical cases of mastitis was $37.91. Organisms prevalent in the cows’ environment caused the most costly types of mastitis. Disregarding contaminated samples and episodes for which no milk samples were taken, mastitis for which 2 organisms were isolated accounted for 35.5% of costs of clinical mastitis, followed by cases for which Escherichia coli (21.3%) was isolated, cases for which culturing yielded no growth (8.6%), and cases for which esculin-positive Streptococcus spp (6.4%), Klebsiella spp (5.7%), esculin-negative CAMP-negative Streptococcus spp (5.1%), Enterobacter spp (4.8%), coagulase-negative Staphylococcus spp (4.1%), coagulase-positive Staphylococcus spp (3.0%), S agalactiae (2.5%), and Bacillus spp (1.2%) were isolated. Other categories of classification each accounted for < 0.5% of costs. Mean cost per clinical episode was $107.11. Mean incidence of clinical mastitis was 38.74 cases/100 cowyears. Mixed infections had the highest incidence (mean, 4.80 cases/100 cow-years), followed by cases with no growth (2.96), E coli (2.10), esculin-positive Streptococcus spp (1.94), coagulase-negative Staphylococcus spp (1.60), esculin-negative CAMP-negative Streptococcus spp (1.25), coagulase-positive Staphylococcus spp (1.04), Enterobacter spp (0.36), and Klebsiella spp (0.27).

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association