Nonlactating cows transitioning from pregnancy to high milk production are subjected to stressors, including depressed feed intake1,2 and diminished immune function.1 As a consequence, half of postpartum cows may have at least 1 infectious or metabolic disease,3 which includes uterine diseases and RFM, that in turn can negatively impact reproductive performance. Retained fetal membranes have been defined as fetal membranes observed outside the vulva or present in the vagina or uterus as determined by vaginal examination > 24 hours after calving.4 The median incidence of RFM in dairy cattle is 8.6%,4 which has not changed appreciably in recent years. Older age, dystocia, abortion, and increased prepartum serum concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids are among the risk factors associated with development of RFM.5,6 Cows with RFM produce less milk (753 kg [1,657 lb] less) than unaffected cows during an entire lactation, with an additional reduction of 259 kg (570 lb) of milk if metritis develops subsequently.7 In addition, cows with RFM are at a higher risk than cows without RFM of developing other clinical diseases such as metritis (OR, 6.3),8 DA (OR, 2.2),9 or mastitis (OR, 2.1)10 or of being culled during early lactation (OR, 1.3).11 Moreover, cows with RFM have a longer interval until pregnancy12,13 and a relative reduction of 14% in the odds of pregnancy after the first insemination.5
The cost of a case of RFM has been estimated. Investigators of 1 study14 estimated the cost was £298 ($489) in English dairy herds,14 whereas the cost of a case of RFM in Dutch herds was £71 ($164) in another study.15 Although these estimates included costs of reductions in milk yield and increases in culling rates, calving interval, and treatment costs, they were based on outdated market prices and values. In a recent study,16 the mean ± SD cost of a case of RFM estimated by use of a stochastic model was $232 ± 58. A stochastic model is one that assigns an input a probability distribution and then varies the value of that input during numerous iterations by sampling from the distribution to generate the outcome; thus, each time the model is run, different values will be obtained, which results in a summary value (eg, mean) and measures of variability around that summary value. On the other hand for a deterministic model, a fixed or determined value for input variables is used to generate the outcome. A sensitivity analysis then varies input values to describe their relative influence on model estimates. The objective of the study reported here was to use a deterministic economic model to estimate the cost of a case of RFM in a US dairy cow and to compare results with those obtained for previous models.
Dr. Gohary was supported by a postdoctoral scholarship funded by DeLaval-Canada and Mitacs.
The authors declare that there were no conflicts of interest.
Funding sources did not have any involvement in the study design, data analysis and interpretation, or writing and publication of the manuscript.
Days in milk
Retained fetal membranes
Fetrow JF. Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minn: Personal communication, 2013.
Excel, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Corp, Redmond, Wash.
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