New online tool allows cattle producers to decide how to best test for, and mitigate the spread of, Johne's disease

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Johne’s disease can be tricky to detect but with cases on the rise, it’s vitally important that producers are armed with proper knowledge and are choosing the best testing option for the herd.

A new online testing decision tool, developed by a team led by Dr. Cheryl Waldner, the NSERC/BCRC Industrial Research Chair in One Health and Production-Limiting Diseases at the University of Saskatchewan, has been created to help producers do just that: to make the best decision for testing and get an idea of what a management program may look like.

Waldner says the rise in positive Johne’s cases could be linked to industry consolidation of herds.

“Seven times more beef producers are nearing retirement than are entering the industry, and that consolidation can highlight emerging challenges to disease control in cow-calf herds,” Waldner says.

Additionally, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) outlines how difficult it can be to identify an outbreak, as infected herds can go unnoticed due to long latent, or dormant infection periods and non-specific symptoms. Leaving an outbreak untreated could have serious long-term effects on a herd.

Although there are several different ways to test, none of them are 100 per cent conclusive: enter the Johne’s Testing Decision Tool.

The interactive tool was debuted by the BCRC during a recent webinar where they outlined how the tool was designed to help producers and veterinarians evaluate various testing scenarios and options to get a clearer picture of what a management program can look like for their herd.

“This tool is not a crystal ball, but a means to map out the potential consequences of different testing and disease management options for beef herds. It will help you compare the relative costs and benefits of different options,” says Walder.

The interactive calculator is designed to determine the best testing strategy for any particular herd that balances accurate information and economics.

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