Saskatchewan’s Johne’s Surveillance Program renewed

Animal Health: News Roundup from the October 2018 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Cow with Johne's disease.

Saskatchewan’s Johne’s Disease Surveillance Program, administered by the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA), has been renewed for another five years with funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program.

The Ministry of Agriculture developed the surveillance and control program for Saskatchewan cattle in the fall of 2013 but funding ran out under Growing Forward 2 in March of this year.

Initially restricted to purebred cattle it was opened up to commercial operations in 2014.

In the first five years, 15,283 cattle in 106 herds were screened for the disease and 500 head, or 3.3 per cent, tested positive. Within herds with positive tests, up to a quarter of the herd tested positive.

“It’s important to note that the program results don’t represent the average situation in Saskatchewan cattle herds. The majority of producers who signed up to participate in the program had suspected there was Johne’s in their herds already,” said SSGA president Bill Huber.

Johne’s is a debilitating bacterial disease affecting the intestines of cattle, sheep and goats. The long incubation period makes it difficult to detect and prevent. Many animals within a herd may be infected before any clinical signs are observed. There is no treatment.

When a herd is tested, animals testing positive are usually culled, while recommendations are made related to the use of colostrum and exposure to manure.

The Johne’s Disease Surveillance Program is open to all Saskatchewan beef producers. Under the program, mature cows and bulls receive a blood test for Johne’s. If the disease is found in a herd, a Johne’s disease risk assessment management plan (RAMP) must be completed. The program covers 100 per cent of the costs for testing herds of up to 250 head. New under CAP, the program will cover half of the costs for producers wanting to test a subsequent time. More information about the program can be found at the SSGA website.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a 60:40 cost-shared funding agreement between the federal and provincial and territorial governments.

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