Johnes Disease- Effective Control with the National Johnes Management Plan

Ketosis ( Acetonaemia)

Ketosis is a condition that affects recently calved and pregnant cows. Dairy cows are most at risk with the condition although it is seen in heavily pregnant beef cows ( often carrying twins or in poorer condition).

Clinical Ketosis is uncommon. The typical symptoms are milk drop, constipation, lower cudding rates progressing to nervous symptoms such as licking walls or gates.

Much more common is Sub Clinical Ketosis ( SCK) . Up to 30% of dairy cows may be affected in problem herds. Cows with SCK are mobilising fat and in energy deficit. This triggers increased risk for a wide range of diseases impacting on cow health and fertility.

Recent research of the literature by Dick Esslemont illustrates the key impacts. Dick’s presentation at BCVA can be read by clicking here


What are the costs of Subclinical Ketosis

Various studies have been done estimating the cost of SCK . The estimated costs with the most recent studies indicate the likely average cost to be $260 per case. This will vary significantly between herds. In our experience the worst impacts of SCK are increased risks of cystic ovaries, excessive condition loss and poorer conception rates and increased DA rates. The risk of mastitis in SCK cows is doubled also. The immunity of the cow is compromised.

What causes SCK?

The commonest cause is inadequate dry matter intake pre and post calving. If cows can eat in excess of 13kg of DM pre-calving and they can rapidly consume as much food as possible post calving ( areas to consider are adequate feed space, access, quality, grouping, body condition, calving intervals, water quality etc ) then the risk is much lower. Ketosis prevention is all about keeping the rumen healthy and minimising peri-parturient diseases


How can I monitor for SCK?

We can simply test your cows 5-21 days calved using a hand held Ketometer. This delivers immediate results. We store the results on a spreadsheet together with all the other information required to generate a simple report.


How can I reduce the risks of SCK and Ketosis in my herd?

At a herd level we can help you create a transition cow management program often in conjunction with your nutritionist to help reduce the risk of SCK. How you group and manage your cows is critical. An audit of the dry and transition cow areas is a good place to start.

Are there any other treatments and prevention tools I can use?

A novel bolus ( Kexxtone) has been developed. Kexxtone boluses can be used to target high risk cows for prevention. The bolus is administered 3 weeks pre- calving and the treatment substantivley reduces the risk of SCK in high risk cows ( twin bearing , fat, old, Johnes test positive) and can be vital tool for farmers to use to help control the impact of SCK. Cows affected can be treated although at this stage they will have incurred all the cost of the disease. Prevention is better than a cure!

Johnes Disease- Effective Control using the National Johne’s Management Plan

Johne’s Disease- What’s your plan? Do you have one?

Pete Orpin is the technical lead for the National Johne’s Management Plan( NJMP) and has been working on delivering a practical achievable plan for the UK Dairy Industry to adopt to help control Johne’s disease (JD) in the national Dairy herd.
An Action Group Johne’s was set up by Dairy UK in 2009 with the aim of achieving a sustainable reduction in JD in the UK. The first part of the program centred on farmer education with over 300 meetings organised over the country focusing on JD management.
The Program has developed further with the development of the ActionJohnes website and a structured plan to take forward. 82% of UK milk supply has signed up to the NJMP. This includes the major processors- Arla, Muller, First Milk and also locally Long Clawson and any Tesco producers 

So what do I have to do to comply with the NJMP?

There are 3 things that are required to be compliant.
You must do this utilising the skills of a BCVA accredited Johnes advisor ( all our vets are accredited!)
• Know your risks. This requires us to update your Myhealthyherd risk assessment for JD on your farm and allows us to work out whether you are doing enough to control the disease
• Know your status. If you are not testing already then you will need to test 30 cows in your herd 3-6 years of age which are the most at risk cows ( thin, disappointing yields, higher cell counts, ) The cost of this is £78 if performed by NMR. CIS would have a similar scheme. If you are not recording you can arrange for 30 sample pots and you collect the milk yourself or you ask us to blood test some cows
• Create a written control plan. There are 6 possible control strategies ranging from just improving your management ( without any testing), breeding to terminal sire or strategic testing and improving management. The plan is based on what you can practically achieve on your farm together your aspirations and resources.

What are the benefits of JD control?

JD is an economically damaging disease. Most of the economic losses are with the subclinical cows and disease is associated with lameness, poor youngstock health and higher somatic cell counts. Farmers who successfully control the disease have a trend to use less antibiotics, have healthier herds

Pete Orpin conducted a survey of 394 farmers in the UK and this is the feedback from those farmers that had already started the journey.
In the future it is likely that JD may be something that a processor would consider when selecting herds or milk from selected herds. Johnes disease has been associated with Crohns disease in humans. The link is yet to be conclusively proven but a sensible approach would be to tackle the disease. A “head in the sand” approach wont make it go away!

So what are the next steps?

We will get in touch with all our dairy farmers and encourage you to take part in the NJMP.
The cost for us to help get you on the right track is minimal compared to the benefits that you may achieve in the longer run. Johne’s wont go away on its own!
For more information visit www.actionjohnes.org