A study at Cornell University in upstate New York estimates that it costs about $61 US per cow to manage a dairy herd without using antibiotics.
The research team used a hypothetical herd of 1,000 cattle for its analysis and the industry averages for the incidence of bacterial diseases such as mastitis, displaced placentas and dry cow treatments.
The main cost factors are cow replacement costs, cow slaughter prices and milk prices.
They found a range of increased costs for eliminating antibiotics – from a low of $46 US to a high of $73 per cow.
The authors say that more than money is involved, including the ethical issue of human health related to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.