Four percent of the total cost of disease in 60 Tennessee cow-calf herds in 1987 to 1988 was attributable to veterinary services, and 2.3% was attributable to the purchase of drugs to treat sick animals. When producers spent money on therapeutic veterinary services, it was most often attributable to diseases of the reproductive system ($0.69/cow annually), especially dystocia ($0.51/cow annually). When drugs were used therapeutically, the most was spent on products to treat respiratory tract disease ($0.37/cow annually). The cost of preventive veterinary services accounted for 8.8% of the total cost of preventive actions. Pregnancy examinations (considered here as a preventive action) was the most costly preventive service ($0.62/cow annually). The cost of drugs and biologicals used to prevent disease accounted for 69.4% of the total cost of preventive actions, with drugs to prevent intestinal and external parasites being the most costly ($7.79/cow annually). These figures are based on cow-calf herds randomly selected by use of a 2-stage, stratified plan. Herds were visited once a month for 1 year. Results of this study support other work that showed that beef producers perceive veterinarians as primary sources of information on diagnosis and treatment of sick animals and on reproduction/breeding, but less knowledgeable or cost effective in the areas of animal/herd management, feed nutrition, and agribusiness/economics.
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