A partial budget simulation to evaluate the Return of Investment of improved calving management in Italian beef cattle, family-run farms
The main income in beef industry is represented by calves to be grown for meat production. However, stillbirth and dam mortality due to dystocia represent an economic and welfare issue and even if their incidence could be reduced by obstetrical and neonatal assistance, some farmers seem passively accept a certain death rate. The aim of this study was to simulate the Return of Investment of improved calving monitoring and assistance in family-run beef farms representative of central Italy breeding system. We set partial budget simulations for Chianina, Marchigiana and Limousin breeds. We considered a primiparous to multiparous ratio of 1:10 or 1:5, and herd size of 40 and 100 dams, respectively, as various market scenarios. We assumed that monitoring all parturient cows prevented 75% of stillbirth and 50% of dam mortality due to dystocia. Additional profit in simulations derived from more calves to be sold, dams saved from culling and reduced replacement. Considering a primiparous to multiparous ratio of 1:10, simulated farms showed a yearly income increase from € 2,516.50 in Limousin to € 4,610.30 in Chianina farms, respectively, in smaller herds, and from € 6,891.26 to € 12,125.75 in Limousin and Chianina farms, respectively, in larger herds. Those results showed as implementing calving monitoring and assistance with estimated amortization period of 5 years could be sustained both by smaller and larger farms with a positive effect on herd economic balance. We are confident that this estimate will motivate farmers to improve on-farm practices for calving and newborn management.