Farmers could be spared the cost of new Johne's eradication plans

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

It is proposed that milk processors and the Department of Agriculture will cover, in part or fully, the costs of a new Johne's Eradication Programme proposed for the dairy sector.

The new disease eradication scheme is set to be launched to prevent the dairy industry from a 'BSE-style' disaster hitting the €1.7bn sales of annual infant milk formula.

There is a growing body of data linking Johne's with the debilitating Crohn's disease in humans, as the spread of Johne's in national cattle herds continues to rise.

Veterinary experts believe that up to 20pc of Irish herds - in both beef and dairy - are carrying the disease. Globally, it may be closer to 50pc in intensive dairy regions.

On farm visit

Among the key outcomes of the consultation process for the new programme, has learned, is a proposed herd health monitoring visit, conducted by a trained veterinary practitioner, local to the farm.

The proposed visit would incorporate elements, such as general calf health management and farm biosecurity.

It is proposed that Animal Health Ireland will be responsible for the initial design of the proposed herd health monitoring visit, working through the Technical Working Groups for Johne’s, CalfCare and Biosecurity.

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It is understood a critical principle of the design process is that the additional interventions to address calf health and biosecurity contribute to, rather than weaken, the existing Johne’s control measures.

Part of this process could involve the development of a personal herd health rating  to assist farmers to chart their progress.

It is proposed that the cost of delivery of the farm herd health visit to dairy herds would be met fully or in part by the milk processors.


In view of the fact that the annual testing of eligible animals forms part of internationally credible control programmes for Johne’s, it is proposed that the programme retains the requirement to test all eligible animals at individual herd level for a number of years.

Testing would be carried out until the risk of the disease being present in a participating herd can be established with reasonable confidence.

It is also proposed that the current monitoring of cull cows for brucellosis be extended to Johne’s. Document’s seen by FarmIreland show that this due to the fact that Johne’s may be present in farmers’ herds without their knowledge.

In herds in which the cull cow monitor indicates the presence of the disease, the farmer would be notified of this fact, and invited to engage with the structured programme.

It is proposed that the costs of relevant Johne's Disease testing, carried out in association with the annual herd Tb test would be met, in full or in part, by the Department, for a period of time sufficient to allow participating farmers establish their JD status with a reasonable degree of certainty.


The document sets out that in line with the increased focus on biosecurity in this proposal, the active resolution of test positive animals will be more strongly promoted.

The retention of PI animals on farmers has been a key issue under the BVD eradication programme.

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