Monday, May 30, 2011

Economics of reproduction: Background and tools

A management area with constant discussion, at least in the Netherlands, is the area of reproduction. Twenty years or so ago, it seemed clear: the optimal calving interval is a short calving interval and farmers should strive for a calving interval of 365 days. However, things changed in the meantime. Milk production increased, the persistency of milk production changed and market circumstances changed. The average calving interval increased from 1993 (394 days) to 2010 (418 days) with little less than a month.

Is this a problem? Well recent calculations show that under Dutch circumstances the net economic effect of an average (calving interval 407 days) vs a good (calving interval 362 days) is € 34 per cow per year. the difference of a good and a bad (calving interval 507 days) is € 231 per cow per year. I would conclude that there is certainly economic benefit to be gained by improving the calving interval, especially because these losses are calculated for Dutch quota circumstances, where the costs of a lower milk production per cow per year are relatively low.

These data are based on a detailed dynamic stochastic simulation model, developed by Chaidate Inchaisri and published in the scientific journal Theriogenology.  Chaidate is from the Faculty of Veterinary Science of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. He is finishing his PhD on epidemiology and economics at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University. The model developed by chaidate simulates single cows throughout the reproductive period, and follows these cows with time intervals of 1 week. The economic evaluation does include lower milk production, inseminations, less calves for sale or rearing and culling. Moreover, it includes also beneficial effects of a longer calving interval such as less costs due to calvings, or less diseases because of a lower number of transitions. It is known that the transition period is a high risk period for a number of diseases such as ketosis and mastitis, but this is never taken into account in calculations with regard to reproduction so far.

The model developed by Chaidate is quite complex and can not easily be used by individual farmers or advisors. Therefore, Wilma Steeneveld (Chair group Business Economics of Wageningen University) developed a relatively straightforward calculation tool to be used by farmers and their advisors. It can be found on this website. Given the potential benefits of improvement of reproduction on dairy farmers it is my advise to download this tool and see what can be gained on your farm.

1 comment:

  1. The link to decision tools at

    seems to be broken.

    Please tell us where we could find all your economic decisoin tols