Got Johne's? Be Sure

Most dairies can't say 'Not in my herd.'

Published on: Jun 2, 2010
What you can't see CAN hurt you - particularly your bottom line. And Johne's disease is one of the toughest beef and dairy diseases to detect until it starts raising herd culling rates.

For every dairy animal showing signs, an estimated 10 to 25 others of different animals are also infected, says Dr. Michael Carter, National Johne's Disease Control Program Coordinator. For example, a dairy producer may see one case of clinical disease every few years, then suddenly find 10% or more of the herd showing advanced signs.

Within the dairy industry, Johne's disease isn't a "it could never happen to my herd" event. National Animal Health Monitoring Systems research shows that slightly more than two out of three U.S. dairy operations have Johne's disease.

The big question then becomes "Once the bacteria known to cause Johne's disease – Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis – invades my herd and my cows are clinically affected, what's it costing my bottom line?"

Now a new 12-page booklet developed by the National Johne's Education Initiative can help you determine that cost. It explains the "iceberg phenomenon" and provides three ways to calculate the potential cost. It's available free to dairy producers.

"We're excited to have a booklet that addresses the economics aspect of Johne's disease on a producer level," states Dr. Beth Patton, chairman of U.S. Animal Health Association's Johne's Disease Committee. "One chart even allows a producer to plug in his or her numbers so an on-farm estimate can be calculated in regards to clinically affected cows."

Carter adds that producers need to be aware of what that economic loss might be. "In the same vein, producers should be testing and implementing various management strategies to help prevent and/or control the disease."

To learn more about Johne's disease or to obtain your free copy of the new Johne's disease booklet, go to  or call the National Institute for Animal Agriculture at (719) 538-8843. You can also download it directly by clicking on: