Journal of Dairy Research

Research Article

Costs of mastitis: facts and perception

Kirsten Huijpsa1 c1, Theo JGM Lama2 and Henk Hogeveena1a3

a1 Department of Farm Animal Health, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

a2 Dutch Udder Health Centre, Deventer, The Netherlands

a3 Chair Group Business Economics, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands


A model to calculate the economic losses of mastitis on an average Dutch dairy farm was developed and used as base for a tool for farmers and advisors to calculate farm-specific economic losses of mastitis. The economic losses of a clinical case in a default situation were calculated as €210, varying from €164 to €235 depending on the month of lactation. The total economic losses of mastitis (subclinical and clinical) per cow present in a default situation varied between €65 and €182/cow per year depending on the bulk tank somatic cell count. The tool was used to measure perception of the total economic losses of mastitis on the farm and the farmers' assessment of the cost factors of mastitis on 78 dairy farms, of which 64 were used for further analyses. Most farmers (72%) expected their economic losses to be lower than those revealed by our calculation made with their farm information. Underestimating the economic losses of mastitis can be regarded as a general problem in the dairy sector. The average economic losses assessed by the farmers were €78/cow per year, but a large variation was given, €17–198/cow per year. Although the average assessment of the farmers of the different cost factors is close to the default value, there is much variation. To improve the adoption rate of advice and lower the incidence of mastitis, it is important to show the farmers the economic losses of mastitis on their farm. The tool described in this paper can play a role in that process.

(Received July 23 2007)

(Accepted October 30 2007)

(Online publication January 29 2008)


c1 For correspondence; e-mail: