'Raw counts' can be useful

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Cow Greg Goodell, DVM, Heifer Authority, Greeley, Colo., says there are many ways to monitor disease on the dairy (see related article here).

Speaking at the Dr. Jack Walther 85th Annual Western Veterinary Confernece last week in Las Vegas, he said among the many ways to collect data, don't discount the power of "raw counts", i.e. number of abortions, pregnancies, milk fevers, etc. per week.

Knowing what is normal and when these weekly raw counts are abnormal keeps employees engaged in monitoring fluctuations in events. "Dairy employees are the eyes and ears of the dairy and can be quick to notice weekly fluctuations in these types of events and can communicate these to the veterinarian without having to wait for a monthly herd check," Goodell said.

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March, 02, 2013 at 12:38 PM

A caveat - Be very careful interpreting raw counts alone. That requires risky ASSUMEing. Knowing the size of the underlying group at risk of the event is critical, particularly when making comparisons across time in the same herd or between herds. In many herd situations changes in the number at risk over time makes interpreting the counts alone ("dangling numerators") often misleading at best and potentially embarrassing and expensive at worst.

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