Farm economic impacts of bovine Johne's disease in endemically infected Australian dairy herds

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Abstract

Objective

To determine the farm economic impact of bovine Johne's disease (BJD) infection and controls in commercial Victorian dairy herds.

Design

Benefit-cost analysis of BJD and various control methods in a Victorian dairy herd.

Results

Farm losses from BJD occurred from clinical disease. Clinical cases occur on average in 5-year-old cows, resulting in losses of A$1895 in the year of culling and A$221 in the year preceding culling, giving a total loss of A$2116. Early removal also resulted in loss of future profit equating to A$375 per year. This is the annualised value of foregone future income and costs expressed as a net present value (NPV). The total loss from removal of a clinical case was estimated as A$2491. The average clinical incidence in infected dairy herds prior to entry into the Victorian Bovine Johne's Test-and-Control Program (TCP) was 1.8% and the average Victorian dairy herd size was 262 cows in 2013–14, resulting in annual losses of 4.7 clinical cases if infected and implementing no BJD control. Farm annual loss of profit was estimated as A$11,748 ($44.84 per cow/year). Control of BJD using vaccination, test-and-cull or combined approaches was economical but the cost of implementation in initial years would exceed disease costs. Vaccination-based control provided minimal long-term losses and was the most cost-effective control over a 10-year planning horizon.

Conclusion

Endemic BJD resulted in modest but persistent losses in typical infected dairy herds. Control of disease using test-and-cull, vaccination or combined test-and-cull with vaccination was cost-effective.

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