Johnes Disease in Cattle

Reformed Bovine Johnes Management

Bovine Johnes Disease (BJD) is a bacterial disease causing chronic wasting and diarrhea in adult cattle. Once infected, cattle cannot be treated. The disease results in production loss and eventually death of affected animals. It is spread in infected milk and infected faeces and can live in the environment for up to 12 months if wet, moist shady conditions prevail. Bovine Johnes is endemic to Australia, although traditionally has had a lower incidence in beef herds and northern/western areas of Australia compared to dairy herds of South Australia.

There is no longer a market assurance program (CattleMAP) for Johnes management in cattle. In its place, industry is now rolling out a voluntary and self-regulated scoring known as the Johnes Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS). This system puts the onus on producers to pursue a J-BAS score if they deem it important to their production results and/or end markets. Producers must declare their J-BAS score if asked for a Cattle Health Statement when selling cattle.

Besides the long term production benefits, in our understanding, reasons to pursue a J-BAS score >0 for marketing reasons include:

1. Beef producers intending to market cattle into WA or NT (states with low BJD incidence so will now only allow movement of cattle with J-BAS score 7 and 6 respectively).
2. Beef producers intending to sell cattle for live export where the importing country has strict regulation on BJD farm status.
3. Beef producers wishing to take cattle to shows.
4. Beef studs who sell cattle to clients who may require any of the above.

Please refer to for detailed information on:

     a) Contains an explanation of J-BAS scoring system including the transitional arrangements.
2. Understanding Bovine Johnes Disease in Beef Herds
     a) Contains an explanation of BJD transmission risks and correct BJD management in beef herds.

In summary, transitional arrangements of NSW beef producers in the greater Dubbo area with no history of BJD will automatically be scored 7 but will need to comlete further action to maintain this score. If maintaining a superior J-BAS score is something your business needs to pursue (bearing in mind it will be easier and cheaper to maintain this score now then try to regain it later), the critical dates for the J-BAS roll out are:

1. Implement an on farm biosecurity plan by 30th June 2017 to maintain a score 2-6 (dependant on any previous clinical cases of Johnes on the property)

   a) Producers can complete their own plan by downloading and completing the biosecurity plan template from the National Farm Biosecurity Reference Manual - Grazing Livestock Production available at
   b) Alternatively, if producers would like veterinary guidance on BJD management and biosecurity planning, Don Crosby Veterinary Surgeons will offer one on one consultation with plans generated by the Australian Cattle Vets patented BioCheck software program.
2. To maintain a score J-BAS score 7 or improve to score 8:
   a) Engage a veterinary advisor for biosecurity planniong by the 30th June 2017, in this case Don Crosby Veterinary Surgeons will again offer one on one consultation with plans generated by the Australian Cattle Vets patented BioCheck software program.
   b) Complete veterinary testing of a specified sample of your cattle herd by 30th June 2018. Please note the cheaper alternatived for these tests have significant turn around times so testing should ideally commence by the end of the 2017 calendar year.
We understand that this is a difficult transition to understand and are committed to helping our clients through this transition. Please do not hesitiate to contact our clinic and speak to one of our cattle vets if you require further assistance.
Links for further important information and templates: