FAQs About the AJDI Herd Status Program

Why should I participate in the Herd Status Program?
There will likely be an increasing demand in the future for cattle from herds with certified low risk for Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) infection.  The Herd Status certification program is designed for owners of herds who wish to deal intensively with Johne’s disease. Generally these herds will have a low prevalence of animals infected with MAP and the owners are interested in using the Herd Status program for marketing or other purposes.

This low prevalence of MAP would be demonstrated through regular testing. As a herd progresses from Level 1 to Level 4, the testing requirements become more and more extensive; this means that a herd in Level 4 has a much lower chance of having MAP infection than a herd in Level 1.

When will my herd be Johne’s disease free?
The intent of Herd Status program is to lower the risk of MAP existing in a participating herd as it advances from Level 1 through 4. Due to the nature of Johne’s disease and the difficulty in detecting animals subclinically infected with MAP, herds cannot be certified Johne’s disease free at this time. 

How much testing do I have to do?
Testing is required to either maintain your current level or to achieve a higher level every 10-14 months. The amount and type of testing varies based on your current Herd Status Level.

Which animals do I test?
It is important that the animals chosen to be tested are made up of a random sample of females older than 36 months of age and males older than 24 months of age.  In order to ensure that a random selection of cattle is tested, the program coordinator will compose a list of cattle to be tested. This list will be provided to you or your veterinarian prior to your sample collection date.

Do I have to do all of my testing through the University of Calgary?
No. Testing for MAP can be done through any laboratory which is approved by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories as long as the test results are immediately submitted to the program coordinator. The current list of NVSL-approved laboratories is available at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/lab_info_services/approved_labs.shtml

How much will it cost?
The cost of testing for the Herd Status Program is dependent on the type of testing you have chosen, the level you are testing for, and in some cases the results of those tests. Testing through the University of Calgary will cost $5 per ELISA and $60 per fecal culture (these do not include veterinary fees or additional costs should any tests be positive).

What happens if I have a test-positive animal?
If an ELISA or pooled fecal culture shows a positive result, it is required that those test results be confirmed with an individual animal fecal culture. If an animal tests positive with an individual fecal culture it must be removed from the herd within 45 days or completely isolated from all other herd animals until it is removed from the herd. The producer must provide a signed statement to the program coordinator indicating when and how the animal was removed from the herd, and the method of its disposition.

Do I still have to complete a Risk Assessment and Management Plan?
Yes. To maintain the current Herd Status Level or advance to the next higher level, you must have a new Risk Assessment completed and implement the resulting Management Plan every 10-14 months.

Can I still purchase animals?
Yes. Purchased animals may be added to your herd as long as they come from a herd with the same or a higher Herd Status Level. If the purchase is from a herd with a lower level, the animal must be tested a total of three times with either an individual fecal culture, blood ELISA or milk ELISA at six month intervals with the first test occurring before the animal enters the herd. If you do not perform this testing, your herd will drop to the same level as the herd from which you made the purchase.

What is Grandfathering?
Grandfathering will reward those herds that have implemented efforts to control Johne’s disease and have maintained some degree of herd testing.  The AJDI Technical Committee will assess whether or not the herd in question qualifies for Level 1 or Level 2 status.  Grandfathering to Levels 3 or 4 will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. 

What criteria are used to determine whether or not my herd will be grandfathered?

I used to be a part of the old Alberta Agriculture program; I’ve done some testing through DHI; all that hard work and now I have to start over?
No!  Producers who previously participated in a Johne’s disease control program may apply for “grandfathering” into the herd status program. 

I have tested my entire herd through CanWest DHI using a milk ELISA. Will these results be used for “grandfathering”?
Yes! Producers who previously tested for Johne’s disease using the CanWest DHI milk ELISA test may apply for “grandfathering” for the herd status program.

My veterinarian has taken manure samples from the environment of the cows and the lagoon, they were all negative. Can I get a higher status because of this?
Yes! The AJDI Technical Committee will consider previous MAP testing results over the past five years in determining the herd’s risk for Johne’s disease.

How quickly can I reach Level 4?
Except in the case of grandfathering, once a herd joins the herd status program it will take a minimum of three years for the herd to achieve Level 4.