Cow-Calf Producers’ Willingness to Pay for Bulls Resistant to Horn Flies (Diptera: Muscidae)
Horn flies (Haematobia irritans (L.)) have long posed animal health and welfare concerns. Economic losses to the cattle and dairy industries from their blood-feeding behavior include decreased weight gain, loss in milk productivity, and transmission of bacteria causing mastitis in cattle. Horn fly management strategies are labor intensive and can become ineffective due to the horn fly’s ability to develop insecticide resistance. Research indicates that for some cattle herds, genetically similar animals consistently have fewer flies suggesting those animals are horn fly resistant (HFR) and that the trait is heritable; however, it is currently unknown if cattle producers value this trait. Tennessee and Texas cow-calf producers were surveyed to estimate their willingness to pay for HFR bulls and to identify the factors affecting their decision to adopt a HFR bull in their herds. Results indicate that Tennessee and Texas cow-calf producers were willing to pay a premium of 51% and 59% above the base price, respectively, for a HFR bull with the intent to control horn flies within their herd. Producer perceptions of horn fly intensities and the HFR trait, along with their pest management practices, were factors that affected Tennessee and Texas producer willingness to adopt a HFR bull. In Texas, demographics of the producers and their farms also had a role. Knowing producers are willing to pay a premium for the HFR bull indicates that producers value the HFR trait and warrants additional research on the development, implementation, and assessment of the trait.