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News feature 16 December 2013


Taking controltoelimin A

PEMBROKESHIRE dairy farm is implementing a Johne’s test and control

programme to eliminate the dis- ease from the herd. With Johne’s thought to be pres-

ent in around half of all UK herds, the disease can cause major eco- nomic losses if left unchecked. This chronic disease has an incubation period of between three and five years and is an infection of the intestine,whicheventuallycauses inflammation of the gut and pre- vents nutrient intake. At Stember Farm, near Haver-

fordwest, milk sampling initially picked up the presence of Johne’s. Vet DickSibley,director of

myhealthyherd and avet at West Ridge Veterinary Practice,Devon, has been working with the Jenkins familyatStember Farm to develop aplan forthe eradication and con- trol of Johne’s disease.Herecently led aFarming Connect knowledge transfer event on the farm. Mr Sibley saidamajor benefit of

milk testing is thatitidentifies ani- mals with the disease six months before they become infectious. “It gives farmers the option of

keeping those animals and manag- ing them as high risk animals,” he told farmers at the event. Through theirwork asaFarming Connect demonstration farm, the Jenkins familytested their entire herd forJohne’s and the disease wasidentified inasmall percentage of animals. “They have caught it in its tracks

early so,through management strategies,itwill be relativelysim- ple to deal with,” saidMrSibley. Infectious cows are no longer

AT RISK: Baby calves are the most susceptible to infection from Johne’sDisease. PICTURE: Debbie James.

used to breed replacements and newborn calves are removed swift-

By Debbie James

ly fromthese cows. William Jenkins,who farmswith

his parents,Vaughan and Rose- mary,said it wasnot an option to ignore the presence of Johne’s. “We definitelyget more lame-

ness and fertility issues in the ani- mals thathavetested positive,” he said.

They will continue to screen for

the disease through National Milk Records milk sampling. Mr Sibley said farms with

Johne’s had twooptions –tolive with disease control or to eradicate it.

“Sometimes eradication is too

difficult, it is asteptoo far. It can, however,becontrolled to apoint where it becomes an inconvenience rather thanaworry.” He stressed the need to intervene

before it becomesamajor economic issue.

“Most animals with Johne’s

leave the herd prematurely because they get mastitis,lameness and infertility.Johne’s predisposes adult cows to all sorts of other dis- eases.” Forfarms thatbuy animals,they

should ideallysource onlyfrom herds thatdon’t have Johne’s.Orif this is not possible,every pur- chased animal should be treated as apotential risk so thatifitdoes have Johne’s it doesn’t pass it to the rest of the herd. Baby calves are the most suscep-

tible.Just 1g of infected faeces will infect acalf to the point where it will become infectious within five years. “In most circumstances we iden- tify infectious cows by testing and

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