Tackling Johne's Head On

ANALYSIS - Earlier this year, Johne's caught Chris Clowes, a UK dairy farmer by surprise, reports Charlotte Johnston, TheCattleSite editor.
calendar icon 12 October 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

His Hollieslane herd consists of 250 high yielding Holsteins, averaging 9,600 litres on a total mixed ration (TMR) system.

Addressing attendees at a Johne's conference in the UK this week, he told about his experience with Johne's and what he is doing on farm to prevent further infections.

He first became aware of the problem after a number of cows didn't respond to treatment they were receiving. On top of this, there were always a number of cows with diarrhoea on farm, and he says he would often put these in with the calving cows to keep a closer eye on them.

On first testing the herd for Johne's the results showed that 25 per cent of his herd was infected. "It was at this moment I began to panic," he said.

Since then, Mr Clowes has been working with his veterinarian to tackle the disease.

Although his latest test, the third, has shown an increase in the prevalence of the disease to 33 per cent, Mr Clowes says that he is much less worried than he was six months ago, as he is in control of the disease.

Facing the problem head on, Mr Clowes has made a number of changes on his farm.

Although he has never bought many cows into his herd, he has stopped buying cows altogether, choosing to keep a closed herd to reduce the risk of bringing infection in.

The high risk transmission time for Johne's is at calving. To prevent calves picking up infection from high risk cows, Mr Clowes is investing heavily, to build a new yard for youngstock management and a yard to manage infected cows.

Instead of feeding colostrum and waste milk, again from potentially infected cows, all calves are now fed milk powder. Although early days, Mr Clowes believes the calves may not be performing as well on it. A solution to this may be to invest in a milk pasteuriser.

Youngstock are never grazed outside, but instead kept on straw yards, to reduce to risk of infection through manure on pasture.

Although only in the early stages of a his Johne's prevention plan, Mr Clowes is confident that these actions will significantly help reduce Johne's in his herd, and subsequent affects.

Almost a quarter of dairy herds in Great Britain have now engaged in a Johne’s management programme. This long term committment from farmers in tackling the disease will help eradicate Johne's from British dairy herds.

Charlotte Johnston, Editor

Charlotte Johnston - Editor

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