Under the new framework for managing Johne’s disease in beef cattle, producers nationwide have until June 30 this year to conduct their first laboratory test if they wish to maintain a Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) of 7 or 8 for their herd(s).
The voluntary J-BAS tool provides a scoring system to help producers manage the risk of cattle becoming infected with JD. The highest levels of assurance (i.e., J-BAS 7 or 8) are underpinned by veterinary advice covering on-farm biosecurity planning, along with periodic laboratory testing of the herd.
Many producers have already conducted their first test, which is to be repeated every three years, securing their high assurance scores.
For others, the choice to maintain a J-BAS of 7 or 8 will depend on the J-BAS requirements of their buyers — certain scores may be sought by stud breeders and those actively managing JD in their herd.
A Check Test is carried out on samples from 50 animals within the herd (or all animals if the herd has less than 50 head). These samples must be collected by a vet and sent to the laboratory by the June 30 deadline in order to continue declaring a J-BAS of 7 or 8.
If samples for the first Check Test are not collected and submitted to the laboratory by the deadline of June 30, producers can only declare a maximum J-BAS of 6, and will need to conduct a sample test (potentially involving more animals than 50) to return to a J-BAS of 7 or 8.
Producers should contact their veterinarian to seek advice on, and arrange for, testing. Vets should check with the jurisdictional laboratories for the correct collection, storage and transport protocols before taking samples.
Those looking to learn more about the J-BAS tool and its requirements can start with the frequently asked questions at www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au/johnes-disease-frequently-asked-questions/
J-BAS is managed by Animal Health Australia on behalf of the Cattle Council of Australia, which represents the beef cattle industry.