Feed aid urgent for BJD affected producers

Beef Central, 27/05/2013

The Queensland Government says the response to calls for agistment or feedlot space to assist northern producers struggling to feed cattle due to the impacts of drought and Bovine Johne’s Disease movement restrictions has been limited to date.

However it is hoping that will change when a livestock consultant appointed to match impacted producers with those who have available feed takes up the position.

Three weeks ago Queensland minister for agriculture John McVeigh issued a call for lot feeders, backgrounders and grass finishers to rally behind those affected by bovine Johne’s disease (BJD).

“As the industry is painfully aware, a number of producers affected by BJD, particularly those located in the north and north west of the state, are unable to feed cattle due to movement restrictions and a failed wet season,” Mr McVeigh said at the time.

“As such, feedlotters, backgrounders and grass fatteners who have capacity to take cattle are being urged to immediately register their details on a new database designed to help match feeding operations to BJD affected producers.”

Producers with the luxury of surplus grass in the current season and market environment have numerous options at present such as taking advantage of good buying opportunities to stock paddocks with store cattle for finishing themselves or to take cattle on agistment at relatively lucrative going rates of $4/head/week or more.

While most producers with agistment to offer will undoubtedly sympathise with those struggling under movement restrictions, they will no doubt also have reservations about potentially exposing paddocks in their own operations to quarantine restrictions when there are many less complicated options available.

In his call for producers to rally behind those affected by the BJD response, Mr McVeigh stressed that producers could help in low risk ways that do not involve signficiant impacts over and above normal management.

The Queensland Department of Agriculture has provided Beef Central with an information sheet – reprinted below – which outlines the potential impacts to producers who do take on cattle from properties that are still being tested for BJD.

The main point of significance for backgrounders or finishers who do take on cattle from affected properties that would be deemed over and above normal managemnet is that any suspect cattle are kept beyond two years of age, they are deemed to be potential BJD bacterial shedders.

This means that the pasture on which they are kept could potentially be contaminated. Any calves born onto this contaminated ground, or calves introduced to the same ground under 12 months of age, could potentially become infected with BJD and therefore would assume a suspect status for life.

Producers could also face ongoing quarantine restrictions if they are unable to account for the full number of cattle introduced from suspect properties when the comes time to remove them. More details and contact details for producers to clarify potential impacts are provided below.

In response to Beef Central’s inquiries about whether many producers had yet registered to accept cattle from bovine Johne’s disease affected properties since the minister's plea three weeks ago, DAFF Regional Director, Paul Walmsley said there had been a “small number of operators” sign up.

“However, it is expected the number of registrations will substantially increase when the new AgForce Livestock Consultant starts,” he said.

“The current registrations are meeting demand as producers weigh up their marketing options and consider these opportunities.

“Applications for the AgForce Livestock Consultant position closed on 17 May 2013 and an announcement can be expected soon.”

Mr McVeigh is also urging BJD affected producers to access the expert advice available to help make decisions about their livestock management and movement options.

“Experienced staff from the Department and from Animal Health Australia can give advice about short-term herd management options and long-term strategies to recover from the disease.

“These officers use a range of decision-making support tools such as Breedcow/Dynama and Testing Management Options to help affected producers make informed decisions.

“Affected producers should make sure they have all the information available to them and consider all options before making decisions about their property management.”

Operators who can help feed cattle can register and get further details at or by calling 13 25 23.

Affected producers can also continue to apply for support through the National bovine Johne's disease Financial and Non-Financial Assistance Package through Animal Health Australia. BJD counsellors can also be accessed through this program at


Information sheet from QDAFF:

Grass finishing or backgrounding cattle under bovine Johne’s disease restrictions

A number of properties in Queensland that have received bulls from a bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) infected stud may remain under restrictions for BJD for some time owing to testing requirements.

As well as normal annual turn-off being disrupted by BJD restrictions, the unfavourable seasonal conditions have made the situation worse.

While movements from these properties are restricted, controlled movements are possible, and in fact are essential to keep these properties viable.

The probability of turn-off cattle being infected with BJD is very low. However finding suitable markets or destinations has proven difficult.

This situation creates an opportunity for grass finishers and backgrounders to provide assistance, as well as the ability to establish long-term relationships for ongoing supply of cattle for finishing.

Provided appropriate precautions are taken, properties taking these cattle, particularly for those running only dry cattle (such as grass finishers and backgrounders) can manage BJD risk relatively easily.

Stores from BJD restricted breeding herds can be introduced, with little or no impact to established management routines.

The key principles are to keep introduced suspect cattle isolated from land used by breeding herds, and a decontamination period of 12 months for land exposed to suspect cattle that are older than 2 years.

For more information refer to Key information for affected producers available at

Key points are:

  • Cattle are primarily susceptible to BJD when less than 12 months old (calves). Cattle older than 12 months are more resistant to infection.

  • Cattle infected with BJD generally only shed BJD bacteria in their faeces some time after 2 years of age (earlier if exposed to high levels of contamination or stress, especially bulls). Thus, under normal conditions, pasture is only considered to be potentially contaminated if grazed by BJD suspect or infected turnoff cattle over 2 years old.

The requirements

Suspect animals may be brought onto a backgrounding or finishing property provided:

  • A Biosecurity Queensland Inspector approves the movement and a quarantine notice is issued for the secure paddock or premises that these animals go onto.

  • If these animals are moved off the backgrounding property (under permit) to a feedlot or abattoir at less than 2 years of age, then the quarantine notice on the backgrounding property (or paddocks on it) will be revoked as soon as all of the animals have been removed.

  • Alternatively the quarantine can be maintained and another consignment of suspect animals can be brought in under the same conditions.

  • This can continue for successive groups of suspect animals.

  • Unrestricted cattle can also go into this quarantine area as long as they are more than one year old on entry. They can also either go straight to the feedlot (under permit) following their period of backgrounding, or could be permitted off as low-risk cattle to any other destination.

  • The only significant restriction over and above normal management is that if any suspect cattle are kept beyond 2 years of age they are deemed to be potential BJD bacterial shedders. This means that the pasture on which they are kept could potentially be contaminated.

  • Should any calves be born onto this potentially contaminated ground or if any calves under 12 months of age are introduced, they could potentially become infected with BJD and therefore would assume a suspect status for life.

  • For such paddocks (that is, if any suspect animals are kept beyond two years of age) there is a mandatory 12 month decontamination period following the removal of all suspect or infected animals.

  • During this 12 month period, this pasture / paddock may be stocked and grazed as follows: either it can be grazed by cattle older than 12 months of age; or if grazed by cattle under 12 months of age, these animals (now suspect) must be removed from this pasture / paddock and sent to feedlot or slaughter before they are 18 months of age.

More information

For more information about bovine Johne’s disease in Queensland visit or call 13 25 23



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