Minimization of bovine tuberculosis control costs in US dairy herds

Rebecca L. Smith, Loren W. Tauer, Ynte H. Schukken, Zhao Lu, Yrjo T. Grohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to minimize the cost of controlling an isolated bovine tuberculosis (bTB) outbreak in a US dairy herd, using a stochastic simulation model of bTB with economic and biological layers. A model optimizer produced a control program that required 2-month testing intervals (TI) with 2 negative whole-herd tests to leave quarantine. This control program minimized both farm and government costs. In all cases, test-and-removal costs were lower than depopulation costs, although the variability in costs increased for farms with high holding costs or small herd sizes. Increasing herd size significantly increased costs for both the farm and the government, while increasing indemnity payments significantly decreased farm costs and increasing testing costs significantly increased government costs. Based on the results of this model, we recommend 2-month testing intervals for herds after an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis, with 2 negative whole herd tests being sufficient to lift quarantine. A prolonged test and cull program may cause a state to lose its bTB-free status during the testing period. When the cost of losing the bTB-free status is greater than $1.4 million then depopulation of farms could be preferred over a test and cull program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-275
Number of pages10
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cattle
  • Control strategies
  • Economics
  • Modeling
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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