Preweaning cost of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and cost-benefit of implementation of preventative measures in calves on California dairies: The BRD 10K study

S. A. Dubrovsky, A. L. Van Eenennaam, S. S. Aly, B. M. Karle, Paul V. Rossitto, M. W. Overton, T. W. Lehenbauer, J. G. Fadel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a multifactorial disease that is estimated to affect 22% of preweaned dairy calves in the United States and is a leading cause of preweaning mortality in dairy calves. Overall cost of calfhood BRD is reflected in both the immediate cost of treating the disease as well as lifetime decrease in production and increased likelihood of affected cattle leaving the herd before their second calving. The goal of this paper was to develop an estimate of the cost of BRD based on longitudinal treatment data from a study of BRD with a cohort of 11,470 preweaned dairy calves in California. Additionally, a cost-benefit analysis was performed for 2 different preventative measures for BRD, an increase of 0.47 L of milk per day for all calves or vaccination of all dams with a modified live BRD vaccine, using differing assumptions about birth rate and number of calves raised per year. Average short-term cost of BRD per affected calf was $42.15, including the use of anti-inflammatory medications in the treatment protocols across all management conditions. The cost of treating BRD in calves appears to have increased in recent years and is greater than costs presented in previous studies. A cost-benefit analysis examined different herd scenarios for a range of cumulative incidences of BRD from 3 to 25%. Increasing milk fed was financially beneficial in all scenarios above a 3% cumulative incidence of BRD. Use of a modified live vaccine in dams during pregnancy, examining only its value as a form of BRD prevention in the calves raised on the farm, was only financially beneficial if the cumulative incidence of BRD exceeded 10 to 15% depending on the herd size and whether the dairy farm was raising any bull calves. The cost-benefit analysis, under the conditions studied, suggests that producers with high rates of BRD may benefit financially from implementing preventative measures, whereas these preventative measures may not be cost effective to implement on dairy farms with very low cumulative incidences of BRD. The long-term costs of calfhood BRD on lifetime productivity were not factored into these calculations, and the reduction in disease may be associated with additional cost savings and an improvement in calf welfare and herd life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • bovine respiratory disease
  • cost-benefit
  • economics
  • preventative measure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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