Economic impact of foot disorders in dairy cattle
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Foot disorders have a great impact on the economics in dairy farming. It is assumed to be the third largest in terms of health costs in dairy farming, after mastitis and fertility problems. However, most farmers do not have a good overview of the economic losses caused by foot disorders, because most costs are not directly visible. The objective of this study was to calculate the farm specific costs caused by foot disorders using an specifically designed calculation tool. In the model underlying this tool, the prevalence of both clinical and subclinical cases is used as basic input and used to estimate the treatment costs, milk production losses, increased calving interval and culling associated with foot disorders. Combing these negative effects of foot disorders with market prices, enables the calculation of the economic consequences of foot disorders. All variables (prevalence, production effects and monetary values) can be changed by the user, enabling the calculation of the farm-specific losses of foot disorders. The result of the model shows a mean costs of €45 per cow per year due to foot disorder for a default Dutch dairy farm. The largest part of the costs are caused by the decreased milk production. However, when using data from individual dairy farms, a large variation in costs caused by foot disorders can be seen. The mean costs on dairy farms are comparable with the standard results of the model, but these costs varying from €23 to €60 per cow per year. These findings support the idea that to support farmers with decisions on foot disorders, costs should not be based on a normative estimation but on farm-specific calculations.