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WA cattle producers test for JD under industry scheme

WA cattle producers have enthusiastically taken up the opportunity to test their cattle for Johne’s disease (JD) under a voluntary targeted surveillance program funded by the Cattle Industry Funding Scheme (IFS).

JD in cattle reduces production and causes chronic wasting. It also affects the potential markets available to a producer.

WA Cattle IFS Management Committee chair Steve Meerwald said testing of WA properties that had imported cattle from 2005-2015 from JD risk areas was necessary to allow WA to continue to regulate the disease and to maintain border controls.

“Prior to national deregulation of JD in cattle last year, WA was recognised as a bovine Johne’s disease free zone and any cases of JD in cattle were quickly eradicated under an industry surveillance scheme that funded the testing of any animals with signs of JD,” Mr Meerwald said.

“However, the last structured surveillance carried out in WA for JD in cattle was in 2005.

“In order for WA to continue to regulate and to maintain border controls that minimise the risk of JD in cattle entering the state, it is now time to repeat this more intensive surveillance to confirm the state’s negligible prevalence.”

The Cattle IFS has contacted southern WA cattle producers who have imported cattle from risk areas since 2005 and asked them to participate in free testing for the disease on their property. Testing also satisfies Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) requirements.

“The invitation to participate in the program has been enthusiastically received,” Mr Meerwald said.

“Testing of these southern properties has already commenced and will continue over the next few months. Producers who received an invitation can still register their interest to participate by contacting the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.”

Northern cattle property owners will be contacted shortly, with the aim that testing can be carried out to coincide with mustering early next year.

Testing is being carried out by the department, which will regularly report summary results to the Cattle IFS Management Committee.

“Results from the testing will form the basis for further consultation with the WA cattle industry as to whether regulation and border controls will continue,” Mr Meerwald said.

For more information about JD in cattle and its regulation in WA, see the department website at agric.wa.gov.au.