Linking disease epidemiology and livestock productivity: The case of bovine respiratory disease in France

posted on 05.12.2017 by Alexis Delabouglise, Andrew James, Jean-François Valarcher, Sara Hagglünd, Didier Raboisson, Jonathan Rushton

Concerns are growing over the impact of livestock farming on environment and public health. The livestock industry is faced with the double constraint of limiting its use of natural resources and antimicrobials while ensuring its economic sustainability. In this context, reliable methods are needed to evaluate the effect of the prevention of endemic animal diseases on the productivity of livestock production systems. In this study, an epidemiological and productivity model was used to link changes in Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) incidence with the productivity of the beef and dairy cattle sectors in France. Cattle production parameters significantly affected by BRD were selected through literature review. Previous field study results and national cattle performance estimates were used to infer growth performances, mortality rates and carcass quality in the cattle affected and not affected by BRD. A steady-state deterministic herd production model was used to predict the productivity of the dairy and beef sector and their defined compartments (breeding-fattening, feedlot young bulls, and feedlot veal) in case of BRD incidence reduction by 20%, 50% or 100%. Results suggested that BRD should be controlled at a priority in beef breeding farms as eradication of BRD in beef calves would increase the whole beef sector’s productivity by 4.7–5.5% while eradication in other production stages would result in lower productivity gain in their respective sectors. However, the analysis performed at compartment level showed that, in both the beef and dairy sector, young bull and veal feedlot enterprises derive more economic benefits from BRD eradication for their own compartment (increase in productivity of 8.7–12.8% for beef young bulls) than the breeding farms (increase in productivity of 5.1–6% for beef calves), which may limit the investments in BRD control.