story is true but the names of owners and breeds have been changed to protect
was an avid Angus breeder. His herd was closed and he had been using artificial
insemination to improve the genetics of his herd for many years. One year Willy
decided to buy two of the best cows he could find. The president of the regional
Angus breeder association, Amy Albert, was having a sale and she had some of the
best Angus genetics around. Willy paid $6,000 each for five
bred heifers: ear tags #21, 5, 18, 33, and 89. The newly bought cattle were added
to Willy's resident herd in December and in the spring all had lovely healthy
months after calving, #21 appeared thinner than the rest of the herd and her manure
was somewhat loose. The herd was on a good parasite prevention program but the
herd veterinarian did a check for parasites on a fecal sample from #21 anyway.
The parasite check was negative. Considering other possible causes of weight loss
and diarrhea in adult cattle, the veterinarian next drew a blood sample and submitted
it for Johne's disease testing by ELISA.
The result came back a week later: "Strong positive; S/P = 0.90".
questions arose at this point such as....
- is the diagnosis
- should the diagnosis
- how can the diagnosis
- what does Willy
do with #21 and her calf while waiting for diagnosis confirmation if this is what
he elects to do?
If you do not know
the answers to these questions, you should read the diagnosis topics for both
beef and dairy
Four months later
a laboratory report came back that M. paratuberculosis was isolated from
a fecal sample taken from #21.
questions arise such as........
- has the infection
spread to other cattle or calves in the same pasture?
- how can the pasture
be cleaned up?
- are the other
cattle purchased from Amy also likely to have Johne's disease?
- can Willy safely
sell cattle to others?
- does Willy have
to tell prospective buyers that Johne's disease has been diagnosed in his herd?
- did Amy know Johne's
disease was in her herd before selling these heifers?
- did the bill of
sale say anything about the health status of the cattle?
- was Willy certain
the infection was not in his herd before purchase of these heifers and does he
have laboratory proof of this?
- is Amy responsible
for the value of #21 and her calf?
- is Amy responsible
for costs to control Johne's disease in Willy's herd?
- if Amy does not
offer to compensate Willy, where does Willy go to find a lawyer who knows about
This type of story
happens all the time. Sometimes it can lead to litigation. More often it just
causes either a headache, a heartache or both.
your own herd annually to verify its Johne's disease status.
A SMART BUYER. Always ask for Johne's disease test results on the herd from which
you plan to purchase cattle.
purchased cattle until you can get one or more Johne's disease tests done; ideally
such animals should be tested by both ELISA and fecal culture.
cattle breeders have a lot at stake. They must practice good biosecurity with
their herd to protect their investment. Introduction of a chronic, infectious,
untreatable disease like Johne's disease to their herd can have devastating consequences
for their business.
This site offers
more information on prevention of
Johne's disease and articles from
lay journals about the Johne's disease in beef cattle.