Funding renewed for Saskatchewan's fight against Johne’s disease


In an effort to continue to reduce the potential spread of Johne’s Disease, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) has announced the Johne’s Disease Surveillance Program has been renewed.

“It’s been a popular program among both purebred and commercial beef producers,” says SSGA president, Bill Huber. “The renewal of this program will go a long way to help producers be vigilant about controlling Johne’s disease.”

The program, which was initially funded by an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Growing forward 2 grant, started in the fall of 2013 and concluded in March of this year. Only purebred breeders were eligible to use the program at first; however, it was opened to commercial producers in late 2014.

In the past five years, 15,283 cattle were tested, of which 500 cattle (3.3%) tested positive. Testing was carried out on a total of 106 herds. At the herd level, 76 per cent had some cattle testing positive. Within herds with positive tests, up to a quarter of the herd tested positive.

The renewal of the surveillance program will be paid for in part under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) program, and will continue for five more years. 40 per cent of the other funding will come from provincial and federal grants.

Huber also says that it’s important to note the program results don’t represent the average situation in Saskatchewan cattle herds, adding that the majority of producers who signed up to participate in the program had already suspected there was Johne’s in their herds.

As the bacterial disease affects the intestines of cattle, sheep,and goats, it’s hard to detect, and symptoms typically show up after after a producer’s entire herd has been exposed. As there’s no treatment for Johne’s, it’s managed as a herd problem and when tested, the animals that are positive for it, are usually culled. When working with a vet, recommendations to limit the spread usually include limiting colostrum and manure exposure from positive animals at birth.

The program covers all the costs involved for testing herds up to 250 head. New this year, the program will cover 50 per cent of the costs for producers who want to test a subsequent time.

If you’re interested in the program, click here, to find out how you can become involved.

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