Economic value of information from an alert system on physiological imbalance in fresh cows

GplusE Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Physiological imbalance is an abnormal physiological condition that cannot be directly observed but is assumed to precede subclinical and clinical diseases in the beginning of lactation. Alert systems to detect the physiological imbalance in a cow using Fourier transform mid-infrared spectroscopy in milk have been developed. The objective of this study was to estimate the value of information provided from such system with different indicator accuracies, herd prevalence and prices. A decision tree was created to model the probabilities of detection and associated costs of test outcome, intervention and occurrence of disease. We assumed that the negative effect of physiological imbalance was the development of subclinical ketosis and that this negative effect was prevented by drenching the cows with propylene glycol for 5 days. We simulated the economic impact of subclinical ketosis mediated through physiological imbalance to be $194 per case. The results showed that if the alert system was highly accurate (Se = 0.99/Sp = 0.99), and the prevalence of physiological imbalance was 30 %, the value of information provided from the system is $19 per cow-year. In case the prevalence is 5 % or 50 %, the value of information is $3 and $13, respectively. These estimates for the value do not cover the capital costs and operational costs of the alert system. This study furthermore clearly demonstrated that in order to estimate the value of information correctly, it is important to consider that drenching all cows and not drenching any of the cows are the two relevant alternative options in the absence of the alert system. In conclusion, the decision tree and sensitivity analysis developed in this study show that final economic results are highly variable to the prevalence of physiological imbalance and highest at an intermediate prevalence. Other relevant factors are the costs associated with drenching and the cost associated with treating false positives and not treating false negatives. In addition, this study highlights the benefits of simulation to pinpoint where additional information is needed to further quantify the economic value and required accuracy of an indication-based intervention system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105039
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Early online date26 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Dairy herd
  • Economics
  • Intervention
  • Physiological imbalance


Dive into the research topics of 'Economic value of information from an alert system on physiological imbalance in fresh cows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this