UK – An industry-wide initiative to manage and reduce a challenging disease in cattle is targeting 80 per cent dairy farmers reach by October 2016.
Announced last week, the Action Johne’s initiative will implement requirements of the National Johne’s Management Plan with training to be delivered by a consortium of advisers from colleges, private companies, milk buyers and the levy board DairyCo.
Lessons learned from abroad show a rigorous approach can control the disease, said Lyndon Edwards, Action Group chairman.
Work on his own farm has demonstrated how control can be managed over a seven year period.
He said: “I’m pleased that all major stakeholders have come together to support this initiative which should deliver lasting benefits to the industry.”
Dairy farmers are required to assess the risk their herd poses in terms of mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) and select a plan of action by October next year.
“What we are asking of farmers in phase 1 is initially very modest," explained Mr Edwards. "We just want them to assess the risks of entry, presence and spread of MAP infection in their herd and determine their Johne’s risk and status by March 2016.
“By October 2016 we want them to have implemented in consultation with their vet one of the six control strategies developed by the Action Group on Johne’s.
“We’ll then review the plan and determine how it should be taken forward in phase 2.”
Explaining the role of educators, Sophie Throup of RAFT Solutions said: “Our job will be to help educate farmers about the disease and the feasibility of its control; ensure consistent, coherent and technically sound advice is available to vets, farmers and farm advisors, and build the foundations for a more coherent approach in dealing with Johne’s.”
Rob Harrison, dairy board chairman, NFU, stressed the cost benefits in controlling Johne’s, adding: “It is vitally important that as an industry, we manage Johne’s disease if we are to remain competitive and have a sustainable future for the dairy sector.”
Penny Johnston, NFU Scotland’s animal health and welfare policy manager, welcomed the unified approach, saying the initiative provides an “excellent platform” to combat Johne’s.
She added: “At farm level, we need to lift the stigma attached to infection and offer support and advice to any affected producers so they have a clear route to removing the disease from their stock.”
TheCattleSite News Desk
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