National Johne’s Disease dairy control in January

Dairy co-ops have welcomed Johne’s Disease control extending to voluntary participation by all dairy farmers on January 1, 2019.

“The programme will serve to future proof the Irish dairy sector against potential marketplace risks,” said ICOS Dairy Committee Chairman Jerry Long.

“The package of supports available to farmers represents a significant and long-term commitment by the Irish dairy sector to its supplier members, and will help ensure the disease prevalence remains low in Ireland, compared to our international competitors.”

Johne’s disease (JD) is a bacterial disease of ruminants for which there is no cure. Commonly, symptoms of reduced feed conversion, followed by weight loss, scour, emaciation and death don’t appear until a cow has had three or more calves. Before such signs are seen, resistance to other infections may be weakened, and a cow may well have been culled.

Research has indicated Johne’s disease is in 20% of dairy herds and 6% of beef herds in Ireland.

JD is caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), also a suspected cause of Crohn’s Disease in humans. Infection usually comes into farms via a single purchased infected animal, or in contaminated colostrum or slurry.

Funding is being provided by the Department of Agriculture, milk processors, and farmers, as this Phase Two control of the disease is launched, with a commitment from the Department and milk processors for four years of financial support.

Joe O’Flaherty, Chairman of Animal Health Ireland’s JD Implementation Group, said, “This is a significant milestone for the Irish dairy industry.” The more than 900 farms (which compares with 18,000 dairy herds in Ireland) already registered in Phase One will automatically go forward to Phase Two, details of which were finalised earlier this week. All dairy herds will be involved in national bulk milk tank testing overseen by the Department of Agriculture, and will be recruited into the programme where necessary. Phase Two lasts for four years, with herds following a test-negative or test-positive pathway, depending on results of annual tests of eligible animals (blood or milk tests).

Herds on the test-negative pathway follow a Veterinary Risk Assessment and Management Plan (VRAMP) for three years, funded by milk processors.

Herds on the test-positive pathway also have a VRAMP, ancillary whole herd testing, and veterinary advice, with funding from the Department of Agriculture for three to four years.

Objective measures of JD control progress in participating herds will be generated, providing assurance for Irish farmers and for international markets.

Dairy farmers can volunteer to participate from early December. Further details will be provided at farmer awareness seminars.

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