is loosely defined as a program designed to classify herds according to
the probability that individual animals in those herds are infected with
The primary aim of a certification program is two-fold:
Johne's disease should be considered a herd, not just an individual animal, health problem. Certification programs apply laboratory tests to classify herds by levels of infection ranging from not infected at all to very likely infected. Often such programs have regulations that participating herd owners must follow regarding the sources for replacement animals. These rules are designed to help herd owners avoid bringing M. paratuberculosis-infected bison into their herds without compromising their ability to do business.
These programs can be established by industry associations, state or federal governments or a consortium of participants. For example, Australia has created Johne's disease certification programs for cattle (both beef and dairy), sheep, goats, and alpaca. The program is administered by Animal Health Australia, a novel non-profit corporation with joint funding from animal health industries and the state and federal governments. This program demonstrates that an animal industry need not wait for state or federal initiatives.
These programs offer economic value to participants: owners of herds certified as free of the infection usually can command higher prices for their animals. Certification programs are an animal industry's best defense against the spread of Johne's disease. Consider supporting a certification program for the health of your animals and your animal industry.