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The costs of interdigital phlegmon in four loose-housed Finnish dairy herds

Häggman, Johanna, Junni, Reijo, Simojoki, Heli, Juga, Jarmo, Soveri, Timo
Acta veterinaria scandinavica 2015 v.57 no.1 pp. 90
barns, benzylpenicillin, cattle diseases, cephalosporins, control methods, cows, dairy farming, dairy herds, economic costs, economic impact, farmers, farms, herd size, milk, Finland
BACKGROUND: The aim of the study was to provide detailed herd level cost information about an outbreak of interdigital phlegmon (IP), which has been an emerging problem with enlarged loose house barns in Finland in recent years. During enlargement, the farmer’s financial situation is sensitive because of the large investments to the farm business and unexpected costs can risk the farm’s survival. RESULTS: The University of Helsinki research herd and three commercial herds having outbreaks of IP in 2012 or 2013 were visited to collect detailed information about the costs and economic impact of the outbreaks. The majority of the costs came from the discarded milk due to the antibiotic treatments. In Finland IP is usually treated with parental benzylpenicillin for 5 days which result in discarded milk for a total of 11 days. Third generation cephalosporins, widely used in other countries, have no milk withdrawal time. However, the use of these antibiotics is not recommended in Finland since these antimicrobials are critically important for human health. Herd-level costs varied between 4560 and 28,386 € depending on the herd size, the frequency of the infected cows, the antibiotics used and other costs involved. The average cost per infected cow was 489 €. CONCLUSIONS: The outbreaks of IP cause severe economic losses to dairy farms and the costs are lower if cows are treated with antibiotics with no withdrawal time. However, other costs, such as involuntary culling, reduced production and fertility also produce substantial costs to the farms. Early detection of sick animals, rapid treatment and control measures to limit the outbreak of IP can lower the costs. Because of the high costs farms should concentrate on preventing the disease.