KSU Researchers have Beef with Cattle Industry Biosecurity

When it comes to cattle, biosecurity could use some beefing up. Beef producers commonly import new animals into their herds, but don’t take measures to decrease risk of disease introduction. Reproductive disease is an important cause of lost production and economic return to beef cow-calf producers, causing estimated losses of $400 to $500 million dollars per year. Because of the complex nature of the production system, the biologically and economically optimal interventions to control disease risk are not always clear.

Dr. Michael Sanderson, a professor of Beef Production and Epidemiology at Kansas State University’s (KSU) College of Veterinary Medicine, addressed this issue by developing a risk management tool for veterinarians and beef cow-calf producers to assist in identifying biologically and economically valuable biosecurity practices, using @RISK.

The software allowed them to model the probability and economic costs of the introduction of the infectious disease Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) into the herd, the impact of disease on the herd (e.g., morbidity, mortality, abortion, culling, lost weight), and what it would take in terms of cost and management to effectively decrease those risks. The researchers also aggregated these risks over ten years to identify the optimal management strategy to minimize cost from BVD, accounting for both production costs and control costs.

“Our utilization of @RISK gave us the ability to account for complex aggregation of inputs and their variability and uncertainty to produce full-outcome probability distributions for more informed decision making,” said Sanderson. “The flexibility to customize outputs provided the most valuable information for decision making."

Read the full case study here.

See also: Fish Stock Levels being Threatened by Disease: @RISK gives aquatic farmers ability to test for disease cost effectively and implement key biosecurity measures

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