Dairy Industry Launches Johne’s Disease Initiative

The Alberta dairy industry has launched a province-wide initiative to promote awareness and education to minimize the spread of Johne’s disease (JD) in dairy herds. The Alberta Johne’s Disease Initiative (AJDI) is: driven by producers; designed to meet the needs of Alberta’s dairy industry; built on the foundation of the national standards created as part of the Canadian Johne’s Disease Initiative; coordinated by the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine; endorsed by Alberta Milk.

Is Johne’s disease a problem? Prevalence surveys estimate more than 50 per cent of Alberta dairy herds have at least one cow infected with Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) which is the causative organism for Johne’s disease. Because the sensitivity of most JD tests depends on the stage of infection with MAP, most surveys underestimate the true prevalence of MAP-infected cows and herds. The financial impact on herds infected with this production-limiting disease is significant and dependent upon the prevalence of infected cows in the herd.

What is the objective of this initiative? The objective is to increase the awareness of JD in the Alberta dairy industry and encourage the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) that will reduce the risk of JD entering the herd, or spreading within the herd if MAP is already present in one or more animals.

The initiative consists of four elements:

  1. Education and awareness;
  2. An on-farm JD risk assessment and JD management plan through your herd veterinarian;
  3. Research on JD and ways to improve the initiative and monitor its success; and
  4. JD Herd Status for herds that have participated in Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s Herd Status program, or those producers desiring to proceed beyond implementing prevention and/or control measures for JD.

How do I participate? Participation will be strictly voluntary. Producers wishing to participate will have their veterinarian complete an on-farm herd JD Risk Assessment that examines management practices used on the farm that may influence the spread of MAP.

Nearly 65 dairy veterinarians participated in the AJDI training sessions in mid September 2010 and are now eligible to conduct the risk assessment. A current list of the eligible veterinarians can be found here.

Following completion of the risk assessment and a discussion of the results, the veterinarian and producer agree on a herd-specific JD Management Plan. This plan will identify the one, two or three best management practices to be implemented on the farm to reduce the risk of MAP entering the herd, or spreading within the herd if already present.

A rebate is available to assist in covering a portion of the cost of the on-farm risk assessment.

For more information on the Alberta Johne’s Disease Initiative, contact Jodi Flaig, Industry Development Coordinator, Alberta Milk, 780-577-3307 or Toll-free: 1-877-361-1231 ext. 3307 jflaig@albertamilk.com.

source: Alberta Milk MilkingTimes newsletter, October 2010

author: Mike Slomp, Manager of Industry and Member Services