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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336428

Research Project: Improved Management to Balance Production and Conservation in Great Plains Rangelands

Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems Research

Title: Economics of vaccinating extensively managed sheep flocks against Bluetongue disease

item Peck, Dannele
item MUNSICK, TRIS - University Of Wyoming
item MILLER, MYRNA - University Of Wyoming
item JONES, RANDALL - Producer
item RITTEN, JOHN - University Of Wyoming

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/12/2017
Publication Date: 7/12/2017
Citation: Peck, D.E., Munsick, T., Miller, M., Jones, R., Ritten, J. 2017. Economics of vaccinating extensively managed sheep flocks against Bluetongue disease. Meeting Abstract. Aviemore, Scotland, March 27-28, 2017, #ISESSAH2017,

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Bluetongue is a serious and recurring threat to sheep producers throughout the world. In the western United States, bluetongue virus (BTV) is transmitted by biting midges in late summer and early autumn, just before lambs are sent to market. No vaccine is currently sold for the most common serotype in the state of Wyoming and neighboring states, BTV-17. It is possible, however, for companies to manufacture custom-made vaccines for susceptible premises, upon special approval by the State Veterinarian. Before granting such approval, the State Vet needs information about potential benefits and costs of a BTV-17 vaccine for rangeland sheep flocks. Thus we estimate: (1) the cost to a representative sheep producer of a BTV-17 outbreak; (2) the cost of administering a custom-ordered BTV-17 vaccine to a susceptible sheep flock; and (3) the expected net benefit of using a BTV-17 vaccine to prevent outbreaks for a range of outbreak intervals. We construct a stochastic economic simulation model of a representative rangeland sheep operation, accounting for variability in lamb prices, morbidity rates and mortality rates. Expected net benefit is calculated for both a killed virus (KV) vaccine and modified live virus (MLV) vaccine. Our results show that expected net benefit is positive for many production scenarios, up to a 20-year outbreak interval. The MLV vaccine is less costly than a KV vaccine, but Wyoming regulations prohibit MLV vaccines for BTV due to concerns about vaccine "escape" - i.e., reverting to virulent type and transmitting from vaccinated to susceptible animals. An important policy question is whether the social cost of potential vaccine escape outweighs the private benefit to sheep producers of a more affordable vaccine. These results provide actionable economic information for both veterinarians and sheep producers, who face increasingly challenging production (e.g., climatic and market) conditions.