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Objective

To monitor effects that improvements in housing facilities would have on herd performance. Financial measures were calculated to estimate whether improvements resulted in an improved financial status for the farm.

Design

Prospective, observational study.

Animals

160-cow dairy herd.

Procedure

Farm visits were conducted from 1990 to 1994. Areas for improvement were identified, and changes were recommended. Herd production and farm financial records were analyzed before, during, and after adoption of recommended changes.

Results

After improving facilities, somatic cell count was somewhat constant, but tended to decrease during the last 16 months of the study. During the last 8 months of the study, incidence for clinical cases of mastitis decreased to 3.3% per month. Reproductive variables improved dramatically after implementing use of a bull for breeding. Subjective evaluation of cow comfort and lameness indicated apparent improvements in each area. However, milk production remained fairly constant from January 1991 through December 1994.

Review of the farm's financial status revealed that costs of production increased from 1990 through 1993, but decreased in 1994. Slow financial response to improvements were attributed to a large decrease in milk price in 1991 and a poor crop harvest in 1993. Thus, although progress was made toward financial stability, approximately 55% of the farm's assets (determined on a market-basis value) were represented by debt.

Clinical Implications

It is important to monitor financial status when managing complex health problems that involve several aspects of a farm's operation. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;209:1406–1410)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association