Animal Health Ireland (AHI) is to introduce a voluntary control programme for Johne's disease in Ireland this year.
The disease, which is found in 20pc of Irish dairy herds and 7pc of suckler herds, has been linked with Crohn's disease in humans and results in reduced output in animals.
Other signs of Johne's disease include weight loss despite a good appetite, scour, swelling of the jaw and even death.
It is most commonly seen in animals between three and five years of age but can occur in younger and older animals.
Infected animals are also more susceptible to other diseases before the obvious Johne's signs occur.
A large-scale American study found the disease cost farmers more than €170/cow/year if more than 10pc of cull cows had obvious signs.
Farmers who enrol in the AHI Johne's control programme will be required to test for the disease through individual milk samples or blood tests.
Where a positive result is returned, the farmers is recommendation to cull the animal in question in order to prevent further infection within the herd.
The results will be fed into an ICBF database, which farmers will be able use to see the Johne's status of herds they may want to buy animals from.
Testing for Johne's is expected to cost up to €5 per sample.