The objective of this study was to use probabilistic sensitivity analysis to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of using an on-farm culture (OFC) approach to the treatment of clinical mastitis in dairy cows and compare this to a ‘standard’ treatment approach. A specific aim was to identify the herd circumstances under which an OFC approach would be most likely to be cost-effective. A stochastic Monte Carlo model was developed to simulate 5000 cases of clinical mastitis at the cow level and to calculate the associated costs simultaneously when treated according to 2 different treatment protocols; i) a 'conventional' approach (3 tubes of intramammary antibiotic) and ii) an OFC programme, whereby cows are treated according to the results of OFC. Model parameters were taken from recent peer reviewed literature on the use of OFC prior to treatment of clinical mastitis. Spearman rank correlation coefficients were used to evaluate the relationships between model input values and the estimated difference in cost between the standard and OFC treatment protocols. The simulation analyses revealed that both the difference in the bacteriological cure rate due to a delay in treatment when using OFC and the proportion of Gram-positive cases that occur on a dairy unit would have a fundamental impact on whether OFC would be cost-effective. The results of this study illustrated that an OFC approach for the treatment of clinical mastitis would probably not be cost-effective in many circumstances, in particular, not those in which Gram-positive pathogens were responsible for more than 20% of all clinical cases. The results highlight an ethical dilemma surrounding reduced use of antimicrobials for clinical mastitis since it may be associated with financial losses and poorer cow welfare in many instances.
Down, P., Bradley, A. J., Breen, J., & Green, M. J. (2017). Factors affecting the cost-effectiveness of on-farm culture prior to the treatment of clinical mastitis in dairy cows. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 145, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2017.07.006