Certification programs help to provide source of Johne’s-free livestock. This is critical for animal industries needing to halt the spread of this infection.
Certification programs are loosely defined as measures designed to classify herds or flocks of animals based on the likelihood of M.a. paratuberculosis (MAP) infection. These programs have been created to help limit the spread of MAP infections among herds or flocks by creating a uniform system that can convey the chance of buying an infected animal from the herd/flock. The word “certification” or “certified-free” is often avoided for these programs because such terms imply a guarantee that the infection is totally absent. It is difficult to be absolutely certain that a herd is free of the infection due to the biology of Johne’s disease and the capability of current diagnostic techniques to detect all infected animals in a population. In place of “certification” terms like “Market Assurance Program” (Australia) and “Herd Status Program” (U.S.A.) are used. On this website, we use the term “certification” generically to encompass all such programs.
Certification programs can be operated by private domestic agriculture organizations as in Australia and The Netherlands or by governmental organizations such as federal or state departments of agriculture. They may be voluntary or mandatory. A certification program can be viewed as an onerous burden, interfering with the ability of herd owners to carry out their business. It can also be seen as a necessary program helping to maintain the health and well-being of animals plus the economic well-being of herd owners as well as the animal industry at large. The most fully developed certification programs covering multiple animal species are in Australia. A visit to their website is strongly encouraged. Links to websites of other countries and U.S. states are found on the links page.
Note: The Australian Market Assurance Program for dairy and beef cattle, called CattleMAP was terminated November 1, 2016. It was replaced with alternative industry voluntary assurance systems. More about this is on the Australian website. Their Market Assurance Programs for sheep, goats and alpaca continue.
Participation of animal owners in the design of a certification program and cooperation of owners with regulatory agencies and researchers specializing in Johne’s disease is vital to an effective program. These programs need evaluation, revision and refinement as they are implemented to identify weaknesses and make the programs stronger and more effective. Design of certification programs is an ongoing process that requires active involvement by all participants.
The design of certification programs should be tailored to the animal species, patterns of husbandry, prevailing industry economics and the geographic region. Programs for cattle herds, in particular dairy cattle herds, are the most common and well-developed. A few states or countries have programs for goats, sheep, and alpacas. Visitors to this website should seek specific information on herd/flock certification programs for the specific animal species of interest (see “animal type” in the menu bar at the top of this page).