Bovine Johne’s Disease Management

A review of the National BJD Strategic Plan 2012-2020 undertaken in 2015 concluded with a change in the BJD strategic plan. The system has...
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Source: Animal Health Australia

Why Manage the Disease at Farm Level?

There are a number of reasons why we should manage Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD) on a national level for trade; however, the disease also impacts producers at farm level. For example:

  • If left uncontrolled the rate of infection in the herd can increase significantly.
  • It can cause wasting and death in your herd, especially during times of stress (e.g. lactation, drought).
  • Stud producers can be particularly affected by BJD due to loss of valuable stock, reputation and clients.
  • Producers’ ability to freely trade interstate is also limited due to the prevalence of BJD in Victoria.
  • See the Bovine Johne’s Disease resource for further detail on the disease.

Changes to the BJD Strategic Plan

A review of the National BJD Strategic Plan 2012-2020 undertaken in 2015 concluded with a change in the BJD strategic plan. Through extensive discussion with Australian Cattle Industries (Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Live Exporters’ Council, Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders’ Association and Cattle Council Australia) concluded that the plan needed to be changed because of evolving practices, reduced funding and the growing influence of biosecurity considerations. The new plan outlines a management plan for working with cattle production conditions. It is important to note that the following information is a management plan.

New BJD Management Approach

The original concept of zones (free, protected, managed) relied on surveillance which was not cost effective and therefore zones are NOT part of the new approach. The system has been replaced with a deregulated approach which places responsibility on individual producers and voluntary implementation of good biosecurity practices.

Risk Assessment Tools

Voluntary tools for assessing and managing the risk of BJD have been developed by industry. The Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) is a tool for risk profiling in the beef industry whereas the JD Dairy score (JDDS) is available for dairy producers.


Cattle producers are encouraged to work with their veterinarian to manage BJD on their property and to vaccinate their herds with Silirum® if BJD is present. This is an inactivated (killed) vaccine which requires a one-off dose and can be used as a tool to complement on farm disease management practices. Consult with your vet and relevant Department before using this vaccine. Follow the label requirements for use and permanent identification of individual vaccinates.

Management Area

There are no longer JD management areas in Australia apart from WA and NT who have indicated they wish to maintain border controls. Beef producers in Victoria should manage the risk of BJD entering their herds through prior risk assessment of any animals that are to be agisted or purchased. Always ask for a National Cattle Health Declaration when purchasing new animals.

Blank National Cattle Health Declaration. Source: Farm Biosecurity

Download a fillable copy of the National Cattle Health Declaration form here.

Cattle Market Assurance Program

Herd status including CattleMAP is no longer applicable. Beef and dairy producers can achieve market advantage by using either the JBAS or JDDS tools. Existing CattleMAP herds will transition to a J-BAS or JDDS score of 8 – the highest assurance level. Maintaining this level also requires a biosecurity plan monitored by a veterinarian and regular testing.

Johne’s Disease Dairy Score (JDDS). Source: Australian Dairy Farmers

Beef Industry Approach

The national beef population has a very low level of JD. Reducing contact with dairy cattle on the same property greatly reduces the risk factor for infection of beef herds with JD. Only buy dairy cattle from herds enrolled in CattleMAP, that is with a JDDS score of 8 or above. Tools available to the beef industry:

Dairy Industry Approach

JD is more prevalent in the dairy industry. The Australian Dairy industry focuses on the JDDS as an industry qualitative risk assessment. The sector also aims to promote good calf hygiene and biosecurity management to minimize risk of product contamination. The 3 Step Calf rearing plan:

  1. Calves to be reared as replacement heifers or bulls must be removed from their mothers and the calving area within 12 hours of birth.
  2. The calf rearing area, including paddocks, must be separate from areas used by adult cattle and not take drainage from areas used by adult cattle.
  3. The paddocks used by calves between weaning and 12 months of age must not have had any adult cattle (older than 2 years) run on them in the last 12 months. 

FNF Assistance

The BJD Financial and Non-Financial assistance package ceased on 1st July 2016 and financial assistance is no longer available to beef producers whose herds are quarantined due to BJD. However, JD counsellors are available to beef producers throughout Australia for rural counselling and general advice pertaining to JD.

Trading Interstate

There are no entry requirements specifically related to BJD for cattle entering Victoria from other states or territories. Cattle must be identified with a NLIS tag and be accompanied by a completed National Vendor Declaration (NVD). Entry requirements should be obtained from the relevant authority in the destination state or territory. Cattle owners are strongly encouraged to seek assurances about the health of any livestock being introduced to their property by seeking a properly completed National Cattle Health Declaration from vendors.

Obligations If BJD is Suspected or Diagnosed

BJD remains a Notifiable Disease in Victoria. Although Agriculture Victoria must be notified of a suspicion or diagnosis of BJD, no further regulation will be applied. There will be no restriction on movement of livestock from the property. If you suspect your cattle may be infected with BJD, contact your local Agriculture Victoria office or telephone Agriculture Victoria on 136 186.

Further Resources

Click here for more information on Bovine Johne’s Disease.

Animal Health Australia – A Fresh Approach to the Management of Johne’s Disease in Cattle 

Download a copy of the National Cattle Health Declaration here.

Click here to download a PDF version.

For further information, please contact the VFF Livestock Group on 1300 882 833 or by email [email protected]

Disclaimer: All care is taken in the preparation of the information and published materials produced by the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) including but not limited to errors, defects or omissions in the information provided. VFF does not make any representations or give any warranties about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability for any particular purpose in the preparation of the information and published materials. This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute financial, legal, investment, production, or marketing advice. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the VFF and all persons acting on behalf of the VFF in preparing documents, are excluded from all and any liability for any loss or damage of any kind arising in relation to this publication including any reliance on the information contained herein.

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