Veterinary herd health management (VHHM) programmes have been shown to be economically effective in the past. However, no current information is available on costs and benefits of these programmes. This study compared economics and farm performance between participants and non-participants in VHHM programmes in 1013 dairy farms with over 40 cows. Milk Production Registration (MPR) data and a questionnaire concerning VHHM were used. Based on the level of participation in VHHM (as indicated in the questionnaire), costs of the programmes were calculated using a normative model. The economic value of the production effects was similarly calculated using normative modelling based on MPR data. Participants in VHHM had a better performance with regard to production, but not with regard to reproduction. Over 90 per cent of the VHHM participants were visited at least once every six weeks and most participants discussed at least three topics. In most farms, the veterinarian did the pregnancy checks as part of the VHHM programmes. There was a benefit to cost ratio of about five per cow per year for VHHM participants, and a mean difference in net returns of €30 per cow per year after adjusting for the cost of the programme. This portrays that participation in a VHHM programme is cost-efficient. There is, however, much unexplained variation in the net returns, possibly due to diverse approaches by veterinarians towards VHHM or by other factors not included in this analysis, like nutritional quality or management abilities of the farmer.
- Accepted May 21, 2014.
- British Veterinary Association