What Happens When Johne’s Disease Appears in Your Herd? Part 2

Johne’s disease is a wasting disease with no cure. It is found in more than 50% of dairy herds in the U.S. and can affect beef cattle, sheep and goats. Last week I shared the first part of this story, covering the discovery of the disease in my research goat herd, our first look at how widely it might have spread, and our first plans for what to do about the 35 pregnant does and their coming offspring. Here’s what happened next. I begin the process of "depopulating" the herd. Testing all the wethers and young animals in my herd was cost-prohibitive and, because of the variability of tests at the time, it would be hard to ensure that negative tests were accurate. In addition, I was already stretching my luck by insisting that the does not be euthanized. I was left with no choice but to "depopulate" the herd. First, I wanted to ensure that no other goat producer would have my Johne’s nightmare experience, so I decided to send all the Boer cross yearlings from the previous year’s kidding to slaughter. If you'll recall from Part 1, I thought the two Johne's infected goats were simply having a hard time competing for food. So to make it easier for them, I put them in with all my young animals. Research indicates that younger animals are much more susceptible to the disease, and in this case, al

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One thought on “What Happens When Johne’s Disease Appears in Your Herd? Part 2

  1. Julie Smith, DVM, wanted to add a comment but had technical difficulties. So I’m adding it on her behalf:

    I appreciate your sharing the story of your experience with Johne’s disease. Veterinarians sometimes overlook the risk it poses to small ruminants in addition to cattle. Across bovine dairy herds, the prevalence has only gotten worse. A 2010 paper estimated herd-level prevalence in Utah and surrounding areas as at least ~40% (based on bulk milk sampling). The 2007 NAHMS Dairy study found the causative organism for Johne’s in environmental samples collected on 68% (over 2/3!) of dairy farms. This also represents an underestimate due to imperfect sensitivity of the sampling method.

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