Success with Johne's

Herdowner’s need to test their entire milking herd to get a handle on their Johne’s status, either using milk at milk recording or blood at the annual herd test. In herds where Johnes is an issue production and fertility are affected, cows are usually culled for infertility or SCC before they develop the clinical signs of Johne’s and begin scouring and losing weight.
Yes the test is not as good as the test for BVD, however it is still more than adequate to control the disease on farm. It is extremely useful in categorising your herd as high risk or low risk.
This test result combined with a risk assessment on your herd looking at the purchasing policy for the last 10 -15 years and management practices on farm in the first year of a replacement heifers life, will help you in establishing your status and give you a way forward to deal with the disease.
If you are purchasing in female replacements try and source them from herds who are testing for Johnes and are low risk, get your vet to contact the vet from the seller to establish the Johne’s status.
I have clearly seen in the last five years herdowners who are working to control the disease are having great success and are also increasing calf health generally along the way. 
Johnes is picked up in the first week, month, 6 months within the first year of life, however it has a long incubation period of 2-10 years. Compare this to IBR that has an incubation period of 10 days, if I went onto your farm today and infected your calves with IBR you would have signs of respiratory disease in 10 days, if I infected them with Johnes you will have to wait for 2-10 years to see the signs.  This is the difficulty with the disease as we can have ‘unseen spread’ for a number of years before it becomes an issue.
The aim is to protect the replacements heifer calves each year as they are born. Dung, milk or beestings from positive cows fed to young replacement calves needs to be stopped.
The following 9 point plan is working well on high risk farms with positives identified;
1. Keep testing and a profile will quickly develop with each test.
2. Cull the positives and suspects once confirmed and their last replacement heifer born from them. The advantage of culling them is that they will be no longer excreting dung, milk and beestings that is positive for Johnes on the farm.
3. Some herdowners do not like the idea of culling heavily pregnant cows even though they are positive. In these cases they need to calve them in a separate area to avoid contaminating the calving box and feed with their dung, and feed none of their milk or beestings to any calves.
4. Cows need to be clean at calving, tails clipped and cubicles limed to avoid the new born calf getting infected from dung ingested. Dung from positive contain more Johnes bacteria than milk or beeistings.
5. Clean calving boxes are a must, they need to be well bedded.
6. The Key is to snatch the heifer calf from the calving box as soon as possible. Some herdowner’s are getting their pregnancies sexed and calving the males calves in an open shed and the females in individual pens with closer monitoring. Herdowners who wish to have the cows lick the calves yet avoid the calf sucking in any dung, have put a cut IBC container into the calving pen and put the new born heifer calf into it, to allow the mother to lick it yet the calf will not suck any dung soiled areas of the cow or pen. 
7. Each heifer calf then gets the 3 litres of beestings from its own dam in the first 2 hours followed by milk from its own dam until it is put on milk replacer. Some herdowners have put a large fridge in the dairy and collect a number of 3 litre milk containers. The remainder of the first milking after feeding the beestings and the second milking is put in the fridge in 3 litre containers with the calf’s number on it. It is then fed to the calf prior to it going onto milk replacer
8. It is essential that the replacement heifers get milk replacer in herds with a risk of Johnes.  Protect your 2016 replacement heifer crop. In herds that have issues with scour, vaccination with Rotavec corona 3-8 weeks precalving works well
9. The final piece is to graze the calves in clean pasture for the first year of their life that is grazing ground that had no slurry spread on it and where no cows have grazed. This piece is very important if herds that are retaining positive cows as they are continually contaminating pastures, housing and the slurry.
Herds who have embraced all of the above 9 points are having great success in reducing Johnes in their herd. Every step you take in the right direction is helping.
 The one comment I am hearing from these herdowners ‘I am sorry I was not more aggressive at the start’, I would be out of this sooner.

Herdowner’s need to test their entire milking herd to get a handle on their Johne’s status, either using milk at milk recording or blood at the annual herd test. In herds where Johnes is an issue production and fertility are affected, cows are usually culled for infertility or SCC before they develop the clinical signs of Johne’s and begin scouring and losing weight.

Yes the test is not as good as the test for BVD, however it is still more than adequate to control the disease on farm. It is extremely useful in categorising your herd as high risk or low risk.

This test result combined with a risk assessment on your herd looking at the purchasing policy for the last 10 -15 years and management practices on farm in the first year of a replacement heifers life, will help you in establishing your status and give you a way forward to deal with the disease.

If you are purchasing in female replacements try and source them from herds who are testing for Johnes and are low risk, get your vet to contact the vet from the seller to establish the Johne’s status.

I have clearly seen in the last five years herdowners who are working to control the disease are having great success and are also increasing calf health generally along the way.

Johnes is picked up in the first week, month, 6 months within the first year of life, however it has a long incubation period of 2-10 years. Compare this to IBR that has an incubation period of 10 days, if I went onto your farm today and infected your calves with IBR you would have signs of respiratory disease in 10 days, if I infected them with Johnes you will have to wait for 2-10 years to see the signs. This is the difficulty with the disease as we can have ‘unseen spread’ for a number of years before it becomes an issue.

The aim is to protect the replacements heifer calves each year as they are born. Dung, milk or beestings from positive cows fed to young replacement calves needs to be stopped.

The following 9 point plan is working well on high risk farms with positives identified;

1. Keep testing and a profile will quickly develop with each test.

2. Cull the positives and suspects once confirmed and their last replacement heifer born from them. The advantage of culling them is that they will be no longer excreting dung, milk and beestings that is positive for Johnes on the farm.

3. Some herdowners do not like the idea of culling heavily pregnant cows even though they are positive. In these cases they need to calve them in a separate area to avoid contaminating the calving box and feed with their dung, and feed none of their milk or beestings to any calves.

4. Cows need to be clean at calving, tails clipped and cubicles limed to avoid the new born calf getting infected from dung ingested. Dung from positive contain more Johnes bacteria than milk or beeistings.

5. Clean calving boxes are a must, they need to be well bedded.

6. The Key is to snatch the heifer calf from the calving box as soon as possible. Some herdowner’s are getting their pregnancies sexed and calving the males calves in an open shed and the females in individual pens with closer monitoring. Herdowners who wish to have the cows lick the calves yet avoid the calf sucking in any dung, have put a cut IBC container into the calving pen and put the new born heifer calf into it, to allow the mother to lick it yet the calf will not suck any dung soiled areas of the cow or pen.

7. Each heifer calf then gets the 3 litres of beestings from its own dam in the first 2 hours followed by milk from its own dam until it is put on milk replacer. Some herdowners have put a large fridge in the dairy and collect a number of 3 litre milk containers. The remainder of the first milking after feeding the beestings and the second milking is put in the fridge in 3 litre containers with the calf’s number on it. It is then fed to the calf prior to it going onto milk replacer

8. It is essential that the replacement heifers get milk replacer in herds with a risk of Johnes.  Protect your 2016 replacement heifer crop. In herds that have issues with scour, vaccination with Rotavec corona 3-8 weeks precalving works well.

9. The final piece is to graze the calves in clean pasture for the first year of their life that is grazing ground that had no slurry spread on it and where no cows have grazed. This piece is very important if herds that are retaining positive cows as they are continually contaminating pastures, housing and the slurry.

Herds who have embraced all of the above 9 points are having great success in reducing Johnes in their herd. Every step you take in the right direction is helping.

The one comment I am hearing from these herdowners ‘I am sorry I was not more aggressive at the start’, I would be out of this sooner.

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