• Bayesian evaluation of budgets for endemic disease control: An example using management changes to reduce milk somatic cell count early in the first lactation of Irish dairy cows

      Archer, Simon C.; McCoy, Finola; Wapenaar, Wendela; Green, Martin J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier, 2013-10-21)
      The aim of this research was to determine budgets for specific management interventions to control heifer mastitis in Irish dairy herds as an example of evidence synthesis and 1-step Bayesian micro-simulation in a veterinary context. Budgets were determined for different decision makers based on their willingness to pay. Reducing the prevalence of heifers with a high milk somatic cell count (SCC) early in the first lactation could be achieved through herd level management interventions for pre- and peri-partum heifers, however the cost effectiveness of these interventions is unknown. A synthesis of multiple sources of evidence, accounting for variability and uncertainty in the available data is invaluable to inform decision makers around likely economic outcomes of investing in disease control measures. One analytical approach to this is Bayesian micro-simulation, where the trajectory of different individuals undergoing specific interventions is simulated. The classic micro-simulation framework was extended to encompass synthesis of evidence from 2 separate statistical models and previous research, with the outcome for an individual cow or herd assessed in terms of changes in lifetime milk yield, disposal risk, and likely financial returns conditional on the interventions being simultaneously applied. The 3 interventions tested were storage of bedding inside, decreasing transition yard stocking density, and spreading of bedding evenly in the calving area. Budgets for the interventions were determined based on the minimum expected return on investment, and the probability of the desired outcome. Budgets for interventions to control heifer mastitis were highly dependent on the decision maker's willingness to pay, and hence minimum expected return on investment. Understanding the requirements of decision makers and their rational spending limits would be useful for the development of specific interventions for particular farms to control heifer mastitis, and other endemic diseases.