Warning for farmers as Johne's disease continues to spread at an alarming rate
Johne's Disease has become a major concern for the industry with the challenge of eradication from the national herd a daunting undertaking for the years ahead with the rapid expansion.
With studies looking at the potential of a relationship between Johne's and the debilitating Crohns disease in humans, the spread of Johne's in cattle herds globally has continued at an alarming rate in recent years with estimates of infection levels at between 20pc and 50pc in intensive dairy regions.
Animals in the herd infected with Johne's disease see a reduction in production, lower milk yields, poorer feed conversion and it is more difficult to get cows back in calf, so the whole system is effected, Animal Health Ireland's, Lorna Citer (pictured) told the farmers.
"Infected animals are also more prone to lameness, because their immune system is effected and they are more likely to get mastitis so there are some good reasons why the disease should be controlled in the herd," she said.
The infection occurs because there are animals in the herd with the disease which are pushing out the bacteria from their udder and contaminating the environment
The most susceptible animals on the farm are calves and they can become infected from the day they were born and sometimes are already infected from birth.
"There are huge volumes of bacteria produced by infected animals. You can have up to 50 million bacteria per gram of milk, it is a huge amount of bacteria so there is potential for many calves to become infected and the infection dose for a calf is very low it is only a few thousand bacteria," she said.
"The first thing to do is remove the calf as soon as possible from the calving pen which reduces the time that the calf is exposed to infection in that environment. Make sure that the cow is clean coming into the calving pen and remove the bedding after each calving and get the calf out of that environment as soon as possible and you will be well on your way to controlling infection