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Economics of animal health and welfare management

ECTS credit



Course parameters

Language: English

Level of course: PhD course

Semester/quarter: Quarter 4 2022

Capacity limits: 20 students

Expected students total: 15                            

Expected students from ANIS: 4


Objectives of the course

The aim is to give PhD-students an overview of concepts and methods in Animal Health Economics (AHE) in the perspective of the livestock production - primarily at the herd level and secondly at the national level. This version of the course will focus on economics of animal health, welfare and carbon footprint in dairy farms, and the course will include AHE input for public regulations of livestock production. 

Learning outcomes and competences

The course will qualify the students to:

  • Apply tools to support a farmer in drafting animal health and welfare management strategy for a livestock farm
  • Select and apply basic methods for AHE analysis of an enterprise
  • Evaluate the economic consequences of animal health and welfare problems in a farm and in the society
  • Evaluate, compare and discuss alternative management strategies to solve a disease- or welfare related problem in a herd
  • Explain and discuss how these alternative management strategies interact on animal health and welfare, carbon footprint, biosecurity, work load and farmers preferences

Compulsory programme

Program of the one-week course:

Day 1 before lunch (Søren Østergaard, AU)

  • Introduction to the course
  • PhD student introduce their PhD project plan and outline elements of economics of livestock health and welfare
  • Introduction to economics of livestock health and welfare:
    • History of economics of animal health and welfare
    • Consumers and citizen willingness to pay (WTP) for animal health and welfare
    • Livestock production economics and basic theory of economics of controlling livestock diseases and welfare problems

Day 1 after lunch (Anne Braad Kudahl, AU)

  • Tools to draft a strategy for a livestock farm with focus on animal health and welfare, carbon footprint, biosecurity and work load
  • Preparation for farm visit on day 2


Day 2 before lunch (Søren Østergaard, AU)

  • Basic methods and tools applied in AHE
    • Gross margin analyses
    • Enterprise budgets
    • Partial budgeting
    • Marginal costs and benefits
    • Investment analysis
    • Cost-benefit analyses
    • Decision trees
    • Optimization approaches
    • Simulation techniques

Day 2 after lunch (Anne Braad Kudahl, AU)

  • Farm visit where we asses a dairy farmer’s decision making in relation to livestock health, welfare and carbon footprint.

Day 3 before lunch (Mogens Agerbo Krogh, AU)

  • From epidemiological studies to economic analyses
  • Implication of study design and statistical analyses when retrieving parameters for your economic  analyses of animal health and welfare
  • Introduction of herd cases to be used for subsequent simulation modelling

Day 3 after lunch (Peter Thorup Thomsen, AU)

  • Example of aggregation of biological scientific evidence as input to economic analyses
  • Case: cow mortality, risk factors and prevention strategies

Day 4 before lunch (Jonathan Rushton, University of Liverpool)

  • The role AHE in development of public regulation of the livestock production

Day 4 after lunch (Søren Østergaard, AU & Anne Braad Kudahl, AU)

  • Working with outline of students individual report

Day 5 before lunch (Vivi Mørkøre Thorup, AU)

  • Using Big Data and Machine learning techniques to monitor the status of the animal and the herd
  • Assessment of value of information from precision livestock farming techniques
  • Exercises

Day 5 after lunch (Jehan Frans Ettema, SimHerd A/S)

  • Herd simulation modelling as a tool in economics of animal health and welfare
  • Presentation of the SimHerd dairy cattle herd simulation model
  • Using various types of herd data as input for analyzing alternative management strategies
  • SimHerd exercises
    •  After this lecture you will be able to use SimHerd on your own in your projects

Program of a two-day follow-up course: Presentation and discussion of course assignments

Course contents

The course will consist of a one week residential course and one month later a two day follow-up course will take place. We introduce the concept of economics of animal health and welfare, visit a farm and experience how they make AHE decisions, and the student will be provided with a set of tools and skills that can be used in their PhD projects. Various health and welfare problems will be addressed during the course. As an example of studying various aspects of a specific health problem we will give particular attention to health problems with significant implications for animal welfare and carbon footprint in dairy cows. This will cover the various factors involved and how to provide AHE analyses given the actual availability of on-farm data. Different model types will be introduced.

AHE becomes increasingly more important in development of public regulation of the livestock production. This will be coved by a lecture by Jonathan Rushton, University of Liverpool, UK. 

The course includes lectures, exercises (both individual and in groups), and discussions and presentations both in groups and in plenum.

During the one month between the course periods each students write an individual report where presented methods are applied on a subject of own choice (could be related to their PhD study). These reports are presented and discussed on the two-day follow up course, where the students also act as opponents on each other’s report-presentations.

Participants are expected to deliver 150 working hours divided between:

  • Course: 5+2 days 2022, including lectures, participant presentations and group work (60h)
  • Preparation: Short scientific presentation of own PhD research project in relation to economics of livestock health and welfare & Reading of background literature (40h)
  • Write an individual report where introduced methods are applied & Presenting and discussing it in plenum (50h)


The course targets PhD-students with projects within the area of livestock production or veterinary epidemiology. If there are not enough PhD-Students then the course will be open for others with similar background. 


Name of lecturers

The course organizer is:

Other key lecturers of the course are:

  • Anne Braad Kudahl (ABK), Senior advisor, Dept. Anim. Sci., Aarhus University
  • Mogens Agerbo Krogh (MAK), Researcher, Dept. Anim. Sci., Aarhus University
  • Jehan Frans Ettema (JFE), Consultant / Partner, SimHerd A/S
  • Peter Thorup Thomsen (PTT), Professor, Aarhus University
  • Vivi Mørkøre Thorup, Assistant Professor (VMT), Aarhus University
  • Jonathan Rushton (JR), Professor, University of Liverpool, UK


The Economics of Animal Health and Production. By Jonathan Rushton, CABI, Wallingford, UK, 2009. ISBN-13: 9781845938758.

The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare. Theory, Evidence and Policy. Edited by Bouda Vosough Ahmadi, Dominic Moran and Rick D’Eath. CABI. 2020. ISBN-13: 978-1786392312


Course homepage

Will be established when course 2022 is approved

Former homepage:



Course assessment

Requirements: Preparation and participation in the full program of both the 5 days residential course and the 2 day follow-up course (virtual online meeting) and a passed course report.



The course is provided by the Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University


Special comments on this course

Course participants have to pay direct costs for their own travel, meals and accommodation. Rooms will be prebooked by the organisers at a hostel or B&B in the city of Viborg, approx. 15 km from the university (run by public busses). The price for the course when signing up is 200 Euro. The price covers coffee/tea, bread, snacks (Monday to Friday noon) and one social dinner.


From 24 – 28 October 2022 (one week course) and 30 November - 1 December 2022 (two day follow-up virtual meeting)



AU-Foulum, Denmark



The participants are granted access to the course on a first come, first served basis (max 20 participants, deadline 25 September 2022).

For PhD students: Click here to sign up for the course. 

For non-PhD students: Please sign up on a waiting list by sending an e-mail to Mette Iburg-Krogh, mette.iburg@anis.au.dk

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