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Consumers are the ultimate beneficiaries of improved animal health. Costs and potential benefits from use of vaccines and dewormers affect returns to individual producers or operations as well as the beef industry as a whole. Vaccines that positively influence average daily gain, improve carcass quality, lower costs of production and improve efficiency, and that reduce treatments, decreasing reliance on antibiotics, and that decrease treatment costs contribute to success of the beef industry.
Consideration for use by individual operations often involves shorter time perspectives, especially if cattle are marketed or if products administered affect only production systems on the premises. When marketing prior to slaughter, owners must strive to market increased value of animals. Thus, ability to market becomes crucial if animals have added value when transferred to other segments of the industry. Understanding of the value of animal health and of various health practices is critical. Recent studies by Odde et al., of Superior Livestock Video Auction and Northern Plains Livestock Auction Markets confirms additional monetary value of calves with health programs, especially specific prior vaccinations and weaning.
Animal health improvements in the beef industry are affected by management practices and decisions beginning at birth and extending to slaughter. Considerations for use of animal health products are part of those. Decisions about vaccine and dewormer use, though made by beef producers, affect most parts of the beef industry complex in some way. Objective decision-making processes for incorporation or deletion of specific vaccines and dewormers in health programs can be extremely difficult. Even though a large amount of information is available, seemingly it often does not address questions of beef production units and sometimes appears to be incomplete or contradictory. According to Animal Health Institute (AHI) estimates, investment by animal owners in animal health products increased by 18% to an estimated $4.3 billion in 1998. Biologicals sales for livestock and pet vaccines increased 19% to $550 million in 1998. However, and in return, $464 million was spent in research and development for animal health products and $121 million was spent for research and development on biologicals by AHI member companies.