University of Wisconsin–Madison

Control Programs for Dairy Herds

An international team of researchers, led by Maarten F. Weber from The Netherlands, has published a paper summarizing the state of national paratuberculosis control programs for dairy cattle herds across the globe with a focus on the most important drivers of program success. The publication is in the April issue of the Open Access journal Animals.

This well-written article gives historical background and summarizes the many lessons learned by programs in multiple countries. While primarily focused on dairy cattle, there is mention of goats and sheep, and the principles of paratuberculosis control apply broadly. The content is readily understood by non-scientists and the 96 cited references lead interested readers to the primary literature. This article describes how concerted efforts at the national level can lead to successful eradication of paratuberculosis, as was done in Norway and Sweden. It also provides an excellent summary of the most effective control measures at both the national and farm levels.

SUMMARY (British spellings)

Paratuberculosis control programmes in countries with a relevant dairy industry differ largely in participation and progress. Despite over a century of experience with paratuberculosis control efforts, major knowledge gaps still exist, including the efficacy of control programmes and drivers and barriers influencing the uptake of control programmes amongst farmers. Biennially, the International Dairy Federation (IDF) brings together experts on paratuberculosis control to share the most recent knowledge and experiences regarding practical aspects of paratuberculosis control.

Taken together, studies on control programmes presented at the 7th and 8th IDF ParaTB Fora and the 15th International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis (ICP) indicated a key finding that a reduction of the prevalence of Map infection had been achieved by various programmes. Important prerequisites for successful control were long-term stable funding, stakeholder commitment and incentives for farmers to participate. Focal topics to improve the control of Map were identified, including improved communication about the epidemiology of infection and its control, increased attention to intrauterine, calf-to-calf and adult-to-adult transmission, sound but easy-to-use surveillance schemes, measures to reduce between-herd transmission and breeding for resistance to Map infection. Research in parallel with these programmes was found to keep interest in Map control high among stakeholders and farmers and to enable programme improvement.


The key findings of this publication bear repeating for emphasis.

The success of national control programs requires:

  • Long-term, stable funding.
  • Education of producers and veterinarians.
  • Veterinary risk assessments, control program design and management on farms.
  • Commitment from stakeholders, especially milk processors. As stated in the article: “North American milk processors did not buy into the programmes, leaving participating farmers and veterinarians without incentives to participate.”
  • Ongoing collaborative and practical research.
  • Financial incentives for dairy farmers. Farmers cannot shoulder the full cost of paratuberculosis control, and they shouldn’t, because of the probable human health/societal impacts of this infectious, zoonotic disease.