Objective—To identify management factors associated with veterinary usage by organic and conventional dairy farms.
Design—Prospective case-control study.
Procedures—Organic farms in New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin were matched to conventional farms on the basis of location and herd size. During a single herd visit, a questionnaire was administered, information about animal disease incidence and number of veterinarian visits in the preceding 60 days was collected, and forms to record similar information during the 60 days after the visit were left for the herd manager to complete. For analysis, conventional herds were classified as either grazing or nongrazing. Multiple correspondence analysis was used to assess relationships among management factors and selected outcomes for frequency of veterinary usage.
Results—Intensive management practices were closely associated with frequent veterinary usage. Generally, organic management practices were associated with less frequent veterinary usage than were conventional management practices. Conventional grazing practices were associated with intermediate veterinary usage (more than organic practices but less than intensive practices), whereas conventional nongrazing practices were associated with frequent veterinary usage. Cost of routinely scheduled veterinarian visits/45 kg (100 lb) of milk produced/y was greater for small farms than that for large farms.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that management intensiveness was more closely associated with frequency of veterinary usage than was organic status; therefore, veterinarians should characterize farms by factors other than organic status when investigating which farms are most likely to use their services. Economic factors substantially affected routine veterinary usage on small farms.