Industry Embraces New Johne’s Tracker

Dairy management companies, including milk recording organisations NMR and CIS, have embraced a new Johne’s progress tracker developed by the Johne’s Action Group. It provides vets and producers with a more powerful tool for interpreting Johne’s test results than has been available in the past.

The Johne’s progress tracker works on an individual farm basis by comparing the farm’s data with benchmarks recognised as having a significant impact on infection rates.

These benchmarks were identified from data analysis, carried out by the University of Reading, from more than 50,000 cows in 257 randomly-selected herds, all carrying out quarterly Johne’s testing.

“With the help of Reading University, we are including the top 25% level and the average for each parameter,” says chairman of the Johne’s technical group and dairy vet Peter Orpin. “Comparing these key parameters with individual herds will highlight where a herd’s strengths and weaknesses are in terms of Johne’s control. This more data-driven approach will help farmers and vets make informed decisions on Johne’s control.”

The Johne’s Action group has encouraged milk recording organisations to report the new progress tracker in a consistent way. “They have been keen to take up this challenge and work together for the greater good,” he adds. “It means that vets and advisers can help producers access the herd’s Johne’s status in key areas and identify where best progress can be made.”

The new progress tracker is available to all herds using quarterly Johne’s screening services. It is incorporated into NMR’s HerdWise Johne’s screening service from July 21, 2021, along with the CIS YourHerd online portal.

In addition to the progress tracker, the Johne’s screening services will provide an average test value (ATV) for each herd, also developed by the Johne’s Action group.

The ATV is the numerical average of the herd’s Johne’s milk test results at any given time. It will change over time to reflect both the number of animals infected and the severity of infection. This simple visual representation, alongside the progress tracker, will give a clear picture of disease progression both within and between herds.

Funding for the Johne’s progress tracker development was provided by AHDB and Dairy UK, to strengthen the delivery of the National Johne’s Management Plan.

Janette Mathie, head of field services for CIS commented: “Milk recording organisations hold a lot of historic and current Johne’s data. Along with the other milk recording organisations in the UK, CIS supports the Johne’s progress tracker as a useful tool on-farm, and to establish a national picture of Johne’s disease status. Having the Johne’s progress tracker in the same format across the MRO recording systems, and anonymised will ensure no one herd is identified. But we get a true and accurate picture of the national situation for the disease.”

Karen Bond, NMR veterinary adviser commented: “NMR aims to do all it can to support the UK dairy industry in tackling Johne’s disease. The Johne’s progress tracker is a significant step forward in helping vets and producers understand what’s happening in terms of Johne’s disease management at an individual-farm level.  We’re keen to work with the other milk recording organisations in having a consistent approach to reporting through this tool. It will be an invaluable step forward in monitoring progress at both herd and national level.”