The practicalities for stud breeders when dealing with BJD

ABBA general manager John Croaker, 05/03/2013

The following presentation on the "Practicalities for Stud Breeders" was delivered to the BJD forum in Rockhampton yesterday by Australian Brahman Breeders Association general manager John Croaker 

BJD is a cattle disease that can affect any breed and more than likely will affect other breeds in the future.

The brutal reality of a stud herd being detected with Johnes disease is that it will be the end of the business in its present form.

The only chance of it continuing will be to re-establish in a new location and the destruction of the original breeding herd.

While in theory it may be possible to salvage some of the breeding herd if the point of infection can be traced and older animals which were not in the age susceptible bracket may be able to be saved, the practical reality has been quite different.

This has been the experience of stud herds that have been caught up in a BJD infection.

The financial and emotional cost on the trace forward herds quarantined until they can be cleared or given the devastating news that they too are infected is immense.

It was the costs of these debilitating quarantines compared to the economic cost of the disease which led the ABBA to the position that we cannot support the eradication programme.

We have advocated that BJD become a producer managed disease however we do not see it needs to be an all or nothing approach.

The ABBA proposal is for active surveillance through abattoirs and properties found to be infected would undertake a self-managed programme to clean it up or use the Silirum vaccine.

We do not see that under this approach the disease would get out of control, particularly in the Queensland environment where heat and dryness limit the life of the bacteria in the environment.

We support the establishment of the Queensland Biosecurity Fund and we believe all affected producer, both stud and commercial should be fully compensated for their losses.

The reality is that with an opt out scheme the levy is very unlikely to be able to raise enough money to achieve a full compensation objective,

That will leave affected producers still funding a significant part of the costs of the Biosecurity imposed eradication programme.

It has become clear that the fear and stigma associated with BJD is much more about the fear of being quarantined than the fear of the disease itself.

That is understandable given the economic consequences of the two alternatives.

We have concern that the complete elimination of all infection in this present incident will not be achieved and that fact together with the likelihood future infections will not be reported will lead to an increase in the prevalence of the disease.

The likely outcome of this will be more frequent detections of infected herds in the future and more pain and suffering from the debilitating impacts of quarantine.

It is likely that some form of market assurance or herd health statement will be required to be developed in Queensland.

This would have a far greater acceptance if it could be based on PCR testing and in a deregulated environment where the threat of quarantine would not exist.

We are told the protected area statue is an advantage with export markets and it is certainly true that many countries importation protocols do have BJD requirements.

This is usually a blood test or a requirement that BJD has not been found on the property of origin in the previous 3 or 5 years depending on the country.

A change from protected area status would not mean Queensland cattle would be excluded from these markets.  It would require that the documentation would be property based, as it is in NSW and Victoria rather than state based.


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