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Long-term Johne's Disease Control Project Creates Lasting Impact

Dan Grooms
Dept. of Large Animal Clinical Sciences

A team of veterinarians, animal scientists and extension educators from Michigan State University are completing a multi-year research study looking at control and prevention of Johne’s Disease (JD) in cattle herds. Over the course of the past 8 years Michigan dairy and beef operations have been a part of a multi-state research project tackling one of the most prevalent animal health issues affecting cattle. Through disease testing and the establishment of proper management protocols, the herds involved in the study were able to effectively manage and reduce the presence of JD.

The Michigan Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project is a cooperative program between MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This project was part of the larger National Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project. The objective of the project was to demonstrate and investigate management factors that are effective in controlling JD. The project goals were to:

•  evaluate the effectiveness of Johne’s disease control strategies.
•  develop new knowledge about Johne’s disease through field research.
•  promote the Michigan Voluntary Johne’s Disease Control Program.
•  develop Johne’s disease education resources.

Eight Michigan dairy farms and one beef operation were enrolled in the project. The enrolled herds represented a variety of management systems. Initially, a herd risk assessment was conducted to identify areas in the operation where JD might be transmitted. Subsequently, a JD control program was developed for each individual herd. This plan was developed in cooperation with the herd owner/management, their herd veterinarian, and other appropriate personnel such as MSU Extension Livestock Educators, nutritionists, USDA veterinarians, and veterinarians from MSU. The prevalence of JD in the respective herds was tracked annually through repeated testing. Each herd’s control program was reviewed annually and updated as necessary. Farms participated in the program for 4 to 7 years. Information gathered from this long-term interaction was then incorporated into research and educational efforts.

Several field-based research projects were conducted to develop new knowledge on the control of JD. Results of these projects have been reported at national meetings and published in peer-reviewed publications.  General themes for these projects have included:

•  Risks and importance of calves shedding Mycobacterium paratuberculosis
•  Role of environmental contamination in Johne’s disease control
•  Economic cost and benefit of Johne’s disease control
•  Frequency of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis on skin of cows in maternity/close-up facilities
•  Development of new management tools to help control Johne’s disease
•  Evaluation of different testing strategies
•  Utilization of environmental
    sampling to determine herd prevalence of Johne’s disease in Michigan

Educational objectives were also key to the success of this project. Information from this project has been incorporated into MSU Extension meetings and field days, MSU Extension publications, including the Michigan Dairy Review and the Cattle Call, and veterinary training programs. The project, along with the USDA-sponsored Johne’s Disease Integrated Project (JDIP), led the organization and development of the first annual “New Horizons in Johne’s Disease Control” workshop in April 2008. This industry-focused outreach meeting attracted industry leaders from around the Great Lakes region.

The Michigan Johne’s Control Demonstration Project has made an impact on the future of both the dairy and beef industry. The program has and will continue to educate producers on management decisions that benefit their businesses and promote cattle well-being.

A comprehensive summary of the research and peer-reviewed publications can be found online at http://cvm.msu.edu/johnes, click on “Demo Project”. It is also available by request by contacting Dr. Dan Grooms at 517-432-1494, or groomsd@cvm.msu.edu.



 


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