Johne's disease

Johne's disease

Johne’s disease is a chronic illness, which causes progressive damage to the gut, and after a period of scouring and weight loss, inevitably results in death.

It is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (or MAP).

A case of Johne’s represents only the “tip of the iceberg”. In the typical herd, for every animal showing signs, many other cattle are in the earlier stages of the disease. It is estimated that for every 1 obvious clinical case, 15-25 other animals are likely infected.

Why is it important?

Johne’s causes huge economic losses to the New Zealand Dairy industry, estimated to be between $40 million to $90 million every year in lost milk production and poor calving rates. At an individual herd level, the economic impact of Johne’s disease occurs in a slow, unapparent manner over several years.

Johne's disease leads to:

  • Lower milk production
  • Impaired reproductive performance
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Death.


Hidden costs associated with Johne’s include:

  • Premature culling of clinical or infected animals
  • Increased veterinary costs
  • Increased susceptibility to other diseases
  • Increase in the overall cull rate
  • Decreased slaughter value
  • Decreased pool of available replacements
  • Decreased feed efficiency
  • Loss of investment in young stock that have been infected or exposed since birth.


How can we help?

The dynamics of Johne’s Disease are complex, but progress is possible with the right approach.

At Franklin Vets, we can assist in the diagnosis of Johne's disease, but more importantly, we can help set up a Johne’s management and control plan specific to your farm to help minimise losses.

We can also discuss options you may have seen for Johne’s testing, such as through milk at the time of herd testing and can consider results with you.

For more information on Johne’s disease management, please contact your local Franklin Vets Clinic.

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