Johne’s Disease and Farm Biosecurity

June 16, 2017

Biosecurity focus the way of the future for livestock producers

The voluntary Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) has been developed to assist beef cattle producers in identifying the risk of Johne’s disease (JD) occurring in a herd.

Transitional arrangements for J-BAS end on 1 July 2017 and cattle producers across Australia are urged to implement an on-farm biosecurity plan in order to maintain their current J-BAS. J-BAS is managed by Animal Health Australia (AHA) on behalf of the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), who represent the industry.

In an important update for producers, herds with a transition score of J-BAS 7 or 8 will revert to a J-BAS 6 rather than J-BAS 0, if no on-farm biosecurity plan is in place by 1 July 2017.

“CCA have taken on-board feedback and altered the J-BAS score to alleviate producer concerns regarding loss of domestic market sales. This doesn’t change the focus of the new direction – cattle producers are still encouraged to treat JD as one of the many diseases they must manage within their business,” says Dr Rob Barwell, Acting Executive Manager Biosecurity and Product Integrity Services at AHA.

“We’d like to acknowledge all livestock stakeholders, including agents, for their excellent work in spreading the on-farm biosecurity message to Australian cattle producers – a message we’re keen for all invested parties to continue sharing.

“It’s important to remember that key to this new framework is the implementation of robust biosecurity practices; practices which will safeguard the profitability of the cattle producer,” says Dr Barwell.

To assist producers with developing their biosecurity plans, AHA has updated its Farm Biosecurity Plan page to include a range of biosecurity planning resources. The same on-farm planning template can be used for the Livestock Production Assurance program and J-BAS, with producers who have a JD focus required to complete the optional JD questions.

As the Australian cattle industry finalises the transition to a new framework for managing JD, producers are encouraged to implement their on-farm biosecurity plans.

Do I need to send my Farm Biosecurity Plan anywhere?

You do not need to send your Farm Biosecurity Plan anywhere. It should be carefully filed so that it can be produced in either of the following situations:

  1. If you have declared on a National Cattle Health Declaration that your herd is J-BAS 6, 7 or 8, a potential purchaser could ask to see your Farm Biosecurity Plan to be assured that your Biosecurity Plan for Johnes Disease minimises the risk of infection of your herd with Johnes Disease.
  2. LPA conducts random audits. From 1 January 2018 if you are audited for LPA compliance the auditor will ask to see your Farm Biosecurity Plan.

Do I need a veterinarian to sign my Farm Biosecurity Plan which includes a Johnes module and will I have to test my herd for Johnes Disease?

  • If you decide to drop to J-BAS 6 assurance level you do not need a veterinarian to sign off on your Biosecurity Plan and you are not required to conduct any testing of your herd for Johnes Disease.
  • If you wish to maintain a J-BAS 7 assurance level you are required to have a veterinarian to sign off on your on Farm Biosecurity Plan and review it annually and you will be required to conduct the first Triennial Check Test (up to 50 animals) by 30 June 2108. Note that for a Qld herd wishing to maintain access for cattle to WA an Annual Check Test is required.
  • If you wish to maintain a J-BAS 8 assurance level (WA herds and former Market Assurance Program herds) you will be required to have a veterinarian sign your Farm Biosecurity Plan and review it annually and you will be required to conduct the first Triennial Check Test by 30 June 2018. Note that access of cattle to WA from NSW, Vic, SA and TAS requires there are additional requirements to J-BAS 8 are required. From NSW and SA two clear Sample Tests (up to 300 head) must have been conducted two years apart (equivalent to the former MN2) and from Vic and Tas three Sample Tests over four years must have been conducted (equivalent to the former MN3)

If you have any questions on this complex and confusing issue please don’t hesitate to call me

Alex McDonald
Ph 0412 811123

Link to Farm Biosecurity Toolkit – Farm Biosecurity has a number of materials to help you implement biosecurity measures on your farm. These include industry plans and farm manuals, checklists, animal declaration forms, health statements and plant pest fact sheets.