10 Good Reasons to Control Johne’s Disease

Johne’s disease affects cows and other livestock, causing loss of body condition, diarrhoea and death. It can also be linked with other cattle diseases and loss of productivity. The Irish Johne’s Control Programme (IJCP) supports farmers to control Johne’s disease and here are 10 good reasons why you should be involved!

1. Good practice

All dairy farmers work hard in maintaining high standards of animal health on their farm, and controlling Johne’s disease does not detract from that. In fact, preventing or controlling Johne’s disease will improve animal health and welfare, and contribute to better productivity and sustainability.

2. ‘Prevention is better than cure’
With Johne’s disease, spread is slow and challenging to detect, with eradication difficult and long drawn out. Prevention’ in this context includes both stopping infection from entering and interrupting the spread of the disease within your herd.

3. Infection can be costly
An infected herd – even without obvious signs of disease – is estimated to lose in the order of €33 per cow per year. For an average herd of 90 cows, the estimated loss is €3,000 or 1.9% of milk revenue. This is due to reduced production, early culling and lost value for those cull animals. Johne’s disease will also lead to increased use of veterinary treatments, with adverse effects on costs, antimicrobial resistance and farm sustainability. Unfortunately, losses will increase as the level of infection rises over time

4. If your herd does not have Johne’s infection

The Irish Johne’s Control Programme will support you to keep infection out of the herd and will help you to avoid any animal or financial losses due to the disease. Most herds are not infected and it makes sense to actively stay that way, as the on-farm management practices required to deal with the disease can be challenging, especially at calving which is already a busy time of the year. Participation in the IJCP also gives you increasing assurance over time that Johne’s disease is not present in your herd.

5. If your herd has Johne’s infection

The Irish Johne’s Control Programme will support and guide you to reduce and manage the spread of infection within your herd, and to minimise the impact of the disease on your animals resulting inimproved animal health.

6. Standardised measures for disease control

The annual veterinary risk assessment and management plan (VRAMP), whole herd testing, and followup to positive test results will help you to understand and take charge of Johne’s disease risks in ways that suit your farm. The protocol for herd testing overcomes the common concern about the accuracy of testing of individual animals.

7. Funded supports

The financial supports of the programme fully fund the VRAMP, any follow-up testing required and veterinary support for infected herds. The Whole Herd Test is subsidised in the first year at a level that fully covers the cost if using milk recording samples, and partially meets the cost of blood testing. The levels of testing support in subsequent years are determined by your test results.

8. Flexibility

You can decide on the timing of when it suits you to complete your Whole Herd Testing and VRAMP. Just ensure it is completed annually as otherwise, you will not receive your testing supports. Your test results are uploaded to ICBF for ease of access for both you and your nominated veterinary practitioner.

9. Spin-off benefits for other diseases

Control of Johne’s disease will improve and reduce the spread and impact of other calf and animal health issues including scour, pneumonia, and lameness in your herd.

10. Information & Advice

Your veterinary practitioner who is specially trained and engaged by the programme is available to provide you with advice and support. AHI also provides you with information on the programme
through their website.