Johne’s disease management in Queensland

From 1 July 2016 a new risk-based Johne's disease management approach commenced in Queensland. The outcomes of the national review of Johne's disease management conducted in 2015 provide the framework for these changes to occur.

The risk-based approach provides greater flexibility for producers to manage Johne's disease on their property in accordance with their needs and reduces regulatory burden. This approach is consistent with the shared responsibility and risk-based decision-making which will be implemented under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Under the new approach producers have an obligation to do what is reasonable and practical to minimise the likelihood and impacts of Johne's disease. This means that the current property quarantine and livestock movement restrictions will cease from 1 July 2016. 

Producers should learn about Johne's disease and include steps in their property biosecurity plan to prevent or minimise its occurrence. Most producers will not need to change the way they currently manage Johne's disease risk.

The Johne’s disease Guideline (PDF, 128.2KB) provides ways in which a person is to discharge their general biosecurity obligation in relation to Johne’s disease.

Purchasing and selling livestock

Johne’s disease is most commonly spread by the movement of infected livestock.

Producers introducing livestock onto their properties should seek assurances about the health of the livestock as part of their property biosecurity management plans.

When purchasing livestock, producers should assess and manage the associated Johne’s disease risk. Certain situations will increase the risk of spreading the disease and producers are required to assess those risks every time they purchase new livestock.

The new framework provides flexibility for livestock producers to take necessary biosecurity precautions depending on the risk for their particular situation. 

Health statements

The simplest way producers can seek assurances about the health status of livestock they wish to purchase is to request a written health statement.

If a health statement is unclear or does not include sufficient detail, a producer may ask for more information, reject the animals as unsatisfactory or accept the animals and appropriately manage the risk.

While the health statement is a key tool in assessing the risk of introducing Johne’s disease, producers must also take appropriate on-farm steps to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease. For highrisk animals, this may include isolating the animals; retaining them only for growing out, fattening and slaughter; decontaminating paddocks after exit; or monitoring health by regular testing.

Producers can use the national health statement templates from Farm Biosecurity Australia. 

High-risk livestock purchases

There is a higher risk of introducing Johne’s disease when purchasing livestock from properties confirmed or suspected to have had the disease, or when purchasing livestock from high-risk areas or industry sectors (especially those with incomplete historical records).

High-risk animals include:

  • dairy or dairy-cross cattle from Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia—unless those cattle have a CattleMAP status of MN1 or better or a Dairy Assurance Score of 8 or better
  • cattle, when under 12 months of age, grazed on land that was also grazed by high-risk sheep or cattle
  • livestock from a property that is known or suspected to be infected with Johne’s disease— unless the animals are shown to be low-risk individuals    
  • sheep from the central and southern highlands of New South Wales, or Victoria or Tasmania— unless those sheep originate from a regional biosecurity plan area or from a property that has a SheepMAP status of MN1 or better, or are from a closed flock that has been tested negative by a PFC350 test or Abattoir Monitoring 500 test in the previous 2 years.  

The risk of establishing Johne’s disease is higher for properties where livestock are retained for breeding or wool or milk production, rather than for fattening and slaughter.

Low-risk livestock purchases

There is a lower risk for dairy cattle that have not been on a property known or suspected to be infected with Johne’s disease, or if the cattle are from an interstate property that has a CattleMAP status of MN1, MN2 or MN3.

The risk of establishing Johne’s disease is lower when animals are kept in isolation for short periods of time (e.g. backgrounding, feedlotting or consigned direct to slaughter).

What happens if livestock are infected with Johne’s disease?

If producers suspect their livestock have Johne’s disease, they must isolate the livestock and contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Under the new framework, Biosecurity Queensland will not restrict livestock movement or quarantine the property. Biosecurity Queensland will direct producers to information that will help them understand and manage Johne’s disease. Producers will need to take practical and reasonable steps to contain the infection on their property and reduce the risk of spreading the disease further.

Producers should work with their local veterinarian to manage and meet their obligation regarding Johne’s disease.

Compliance monitoring and industry support

Biosecurity Queensland will undertake a surveillance program to monitor compliance with the new Johne’s disease framework. Biosecurity Queensland, in consultation with livestock producers, has produced guidelines for managing the risk of Johne’s disease infection (PDF, 128.2KB).

Last updated 22 September 2016