New arrangements for managing and preventing bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) in livestock are set to be implemented as the current national plan comes to an end on 30 June this year.
Dr Lorna Citer, Animal Health Australia’s Endemic Disease Manager, says the new rules put added emphasis on individual beef, dairy, goat and alpaca producers to assess the risk of bringing the disease onto their properties and maintaining stringent on-farm biosecurity practices.
“We know that BJD is usually arrives on the back of truck – that is, it is introduced to a property by purchasing or agisting infected stock,” Dr Citer says. “The revised national BJD plan has an increased recognition of the importance of biosecurity practices such a pre-purchase animal health risk assessments.
“It will also include a newly developed National Cattle Health Statement, which will assist producers to gain the necessary information to do this. We urge all cattle farmers to make use of this valuable declaration to thoroughly assess the risk of cattle they are buying in or agisting on their property.”
The current BJD plan has been comprehensively reviewed to identify improvements and reflect the changing needs of producers. The revised plan is focused on protecting cattle in Queensland, WA and the Northern Territory, where the disease is virtually non-existent, as well as the beef and alpaca sectors in other regions, where its incidence is very low.
Western Australia will continue as a Free Zone, and the Northern Territory and Queensland will remain Protected Zones. Regulatory measures will continue to protect all susceptible species in these zones and BJD will be controlled and/or eradicated when detected.
In NSW, the current BJD Protected Zone, as well as the Control Zones in the north-east and south-east of the state and in parts of the Riverina will be abolished as the entire state becomes a Beef Protected Area (BPA) from 1 July 2012. In South Australia, the current Protected Zone in the northern Pastoral Area will remain the same, but the Control Zone will change to also become a part of the BPA.
Within the BPA there will be a separate ‘dairy compartment’, which is defined as farms that supply milk to a dairy factory, and includes any land the dairy cattle have run on. There will be a number of changes to movement controls into and within the BPA.
“BJD is found more frequently in dairy herds,” says Dr Citer. “The new BPA aims to separate beef and dairy enterprises so that the different levels of risk can be managed.
“It is particularly important that beef farmers avoid purchasing or agisting non-assessed dairy cattle and those with a National Dairy BJD Score of less than seven. However to retain Beef Only status producers should only purchase dairy cows with a score of eight or more. As is the case today, beef properties that are known to be infected or suspected of being infected will be placed in quarantine.”
Recognising that dairy herds in Victoria and mainland Tasmania are more likely to be infected with BJD the new plan reclassifies these states as the Management Area. Dr Citer adds that dairy farmers have a range of effective biosecurity tools at their disposal to control or eradicate BJD.
“Dairy operations can implement hygienic calf-rearing programs and use the National Dairy BJD Assurance Score to assess the risk of cattle carrying the disease – the higher the score, the lower the risk,” she says. “The new program gives dairy farmers greater control over how they manage the infection in their herds. “Beef producers in the Management Area should actively protect their herds by avoiding the purchase of cows with a dairy score of less than eight or dairy cross animals of an unknown status.
“We also encourage eligible beef producers in the Management Area who want to protect their BJD status to use the Beef Only declaration or the CattleMAP when selling and buying cattle.”
Visit www.bjdaware.com.au after 8 June for more information about changes to national BJD management arrangements coming into place from 1 July 2012.