Eradication of Johnes
disease in 12 months!
with permission from Dairy Today, May 1997
farm family purchased a dairy farm in 1983. They bought cows from
other farms and begin modernizing the facilities. Herd production
steadily climbed until 1990 when both total herd production and
production per cow started declining. The rapid eradication program
began in July 1995.
1993 and 1994 they had some mortalities in bred heifers. Eventually, a diagnosis
of Johnes disease was made in the herd. By that time, it was estimated that
over 30% of the adult herd was M. paratuberculosis-infected. The farm family
applied for a grant from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board to try new diagnostic
tests for Johnes disease in combination with an aggressive Johnes
disease control program to eradicate the infection from their herd. This study
was initiated in July 1995 in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin School
of Veterinary Medicine.
of the study was to show it is FEASIBLE to eradicate Johnes
disease with existing diagnostic tools and aggressive management.
It was not designed to find the most cost-effective method.
elements of the rapid eradication program were:
removal of calves from cows after birth
ONLY milk replacer to calves after 24 hours of age
calf rearing facilities using calf hutches
of all heifers less than 2 years old because a high (>80%)
M. paratuberculosis infection rate (culture and gamma
of all adult cattle that tested positive to any one of three
diagnostic tests used: serum antibody ELISA,
fecal culture by the BACTEC
method, and gamma-interferon
of culled adult cattle with cows from a totally test-negative herd (ELISA and
gamma-interferon tests). An article based on an interview of farm family was published
in Dairy Today, May 1997. The article emphasizes concerns over the inability of
conscientious dairy producers to guarantee that heifers that test-positive for
Johnes disease go to slaughter and not into other herds.
Dairy Today article.
of the rapid eradication project were reported at the 1998 annual
meeting of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.
6 page manuscript.
production did not improve dramatically after elimination of Johnes disease
from the herd in July 1996. This was largely due to the lack of dairy replacements
caused by elimination of all heifers from the farm and the fear of bringing Johnes
disease back into the herd by purchase of animals. As a result, the herd became
older and animals that would normally have been culled for low production were
kept in the herd. Milk production records through the end of year 2000 are shown
here. We hope to update this data annually.
desperate need of herd replacements, in the spring of 1998 Pat Kling drove 4 hours
to a herd auction in Kiel, WI. They selected this herd sale because it was advertised
as being 100% test-negative for BVD and Johne's disease (by ELISA) and so felt
fairly safe from re-introduction of the infection to their herd (the newspaper
ad for this action is shown here) . Pat bought 4 cows for herd replacements. Pat
said that these cattle sold for above normal market value and that in her opinion,
"the ELISA results were a major factor". Several other farmers she talked
to at the sale agreed. This is an example of how smart buyers can avoid Johne's
disease and how smart sellers can profit from having a test-negative herd.
learned from this on-farm study:
programs work: Johnes disease can be eradicated from dairy
herds. It should be noted that on this farm cattle were grazed
on pastures during the summer months. Although these same pastures
were used prior to the eradication effort, as of February, 2001
there is no evidence of re-infection of the herd grazed on these
disease has a significant impact on milk production.In spite
of extensive investigations by the Food Animal Production Medicine
group at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine,
no other problems were identified on the farm that could account
for the declining milk production.
infected herds the infection pressure can be so great that cattle
less than two years old can develop clinical Johnes disease
and die. Any herd that is experiencing clinical Johnes
disease in home-raised heifers before calving, or during their
first lactation, likely has a high infection rate in the herd.
to detect Johnes disease early can lead to high infection
rates that become expensive both due to the impact on herd productivity
and due to the cost of controling or eliminating the infection.
Kling family was a little discouraged in 1995 because of all the
problems in the herd. Today, however, this farm family is glad to
be in the dairy business. Their herd is healthy and productive.
They look forward to freshening 13 heifers in the Spring of 2001
and expect this to boost herd production. The Klings continue testing
for Johnes disease annually and plan to join the U.S. Voluntary
Johnes Disease Herd Status Program for cattle. This farm family
have become strong supporters of Wisconsins efforts to control
the first version of this story the Klings wanted to stress this
point to website visitors:"It is OK to talk about Johne's disease.
It is of utmost importance that we talk openly about how to manage
and eradicate this disease that can have such a detrimental impact
on the dairy industry."