This paper estimates the financial incentive to control paratuberculosis on dairy farms by establishing the level of expenditure that would minimise the total cost of the disease (output losses plus control expenditure). Given the late onset of the clinical signs and the lack of treatments, control was focused on minimising the financial impact of paratuberculosis by adjusting the dairy cow replacement policy. The optimum replacement policies for disease-free herds and infected herds were compared by using dynamic programming. At the standard settings, the disease justified adjusting the culling policy; under constant bioeconomic assumptions, it reduced the expected annuity from milk production under the optimal replacement policy by about 10 per cent (£27 per cow annually), a considerably lower figure than for other major endemic diseases that affect dairy cows in the UK. The effect was even less at lower milk prices, suggesting that there is at present little incentive for dairy farmers to put more resources into controlling the disease. However, the incentive could be increased if more information were available about how best to manage the disease under specific farm circumstances. Any effect that paratuberculosis may have on the future demand for milk and hence on milk prices would also be an important consideration.
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