Nutrition / Animal Health

Johne’s rules: What will they mean for drought, feedlots, studs, vets and more

James Nason, 26/06/2017

What will the new Johne’s rules mean for drought-affected producers looking for agistment? Or feedlots buying cattle from hundreds of different vendors? Or Studs looking for recipient cattle for embryo transfer programs?

Beef Central put these and other questions, highlighted from our conversations with various industry stakeholders in recent weeks, to Animal Health Australia, which has responded with the following answers below (AHA’s answers in italics below). The Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) has also helped to clarify issues for feedlots.

Any comments? Share your thoughts in the comment box below this article. More questions you would like answered? Let us know


What does this mean for stud or commercial producers who choose to have a score of JBAS 7 or 8, in the event that they wish to buy-in cattle for use as recipients in Embryo Transfer programs. Will they be limited to buying in recips from herds with at least the same JBAS score as their own?

AHA – Ideally they would source from the same or higher score, but this is not always possible.  Small numbers of animals could come from a herd with a lower Score and be managed through the biosecurity plan for the property. This could include things like testing them at the next due test or grazing management (e.g. not mixing them with very young animals).



In the event of drought forcing a cattle owner to move their cattle to another property (for agistment for example), will a property with a score of JBAS 7 or JBAS 8 be required to send their cattle to a property with a herd with at least an equivalent JBAS score?

AHA – Ideally the same Score but this may not be practical at a time such as this. If it is not possible then they would should consider the destination property biosecurity plan where the animals will be and minimise risk of disease spread while they are away (e.g. keep isolated from other cattle on that property). On returning the animals will need to be addressed within the home property plan (e.g. isolate them for a period of several weeks, and then monitor them for signs of disease other than JD. In the case of JD, this will be for some years).



In terms of what this could mean for feedlots that receive cattle from multiple herds:

–       First, is there particular reason a Feedlot would want or need to have a higher JBAS score (ie JBAS 7 or 8)?

AHA – Feedlots would only need a J-BAS f they’re sending cattle to NT or WA or to a buyer with a request for a J-BAS. For cattle going direct to slaughter (even in WA and NT), no J-BAS is required.

–       If so, would having an accreditation of  JBAS 7 or 8 mean that feedlot could only buy cattle from herds with an equivalent JBAS score?

AHA – Feedlots predominantly market direct to slaughter; however, as indicated above, if they intend selling to buyers or regions requiring J-BAS, they should consider their options to facilitate this. 

ALFA’S  position:


‘The new requirements do not impact the majority of feedlots given most feedlot cattle are consigned directly to a processing facility. However some consignments will be impacted.

Cattle consigned from a feedlot direct to a processing facility for immediate slaughter do not need a Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) or a Cattle Health Declaration, unless entering WA. Commercial arrangements may apply.

Cattle consigned from a feedlot to another producer, feedlot, or saleyard are not required by State Departments to have a J-BAS or a Cattle Health Declaration, unless entering WA or NT. Commercial arrangements may apply.

Cattle consigned from a feedlot into WA to a producer, feedlot, or saleyard are required to have a J-BAS of 8 except cattle coming from QLD and NT which require a J-BAS of 7, and meet other entry requirements including herd testing, as set out in the WA Department’s ‘Health certificate for movement of stock to WA’ (LB1 form).

Cattle consigned from a feedlot into NT to a producer, feedlot, or saleyard are required to have a J-BAS of 6 or higher and be accompanied by a Cattle Health Declaration from the property of origin.

The Biosecurity Plan requirements of the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) meet the six base biosecurity requirements for matching J-BAS. However NFAS Feedlot Operators consigning cattle from one feedlot to another producer, feedlot or through a saleyard into WA or NT, or for commercial reasons into other States, will be required to complete seven (7) additional JD specific questions in order to meet the applicable J-BAS and to also complete the question about it on the Cattle Health Declaration.’


What do the new rules mean for larger pastoral companies which have properties across states – ie in WA, NT and Qld – how will these changes affect them?

AHA – WA and NT Departments have been working with the large pastoral companies on how they manage the changes related to their respective entry requirements. Livestock Biosecurity Network, AgForce and Qld Department have been working with producers in Qld to help them meet the NT and WA entry requirements. With NT and Qld producers predominantly being J-BAS6 from 1/7/17, cross-border trade is likely to be relatively unchanged (provided other trade conditions are met); WA’s requirements remain strict, but many in the market have already built these into their systems.


Will vets be legally liable or will they be “signing their life away” by signing on-farm biosecurity plans for JBAS 7 and 8 scores?

AHA – No. The wording on the biosecurity plan template is: ‘I have discussed with the person filling out this template the major biosecurity risks, and plans to manage these risks, appropriate to the individual farm.’ The plan is not a guarantee that there is no disease on a property; only that the various biosecurity risks have been explained to, and considered by, the producer.

Do vets need to receive any extra levels of accreditation before they sign these plans?

AHA – No. Vets are encouraged to do the training module available on the AHA website, and they can be accredited, but it is not a requirement.

Many northern cattle producers say they cannot get vets to preg-test cattle because there are not enough vets in remote areas of the north. Is a shortage of vets likely to pose a problem for getting biosecurity plans signed off where JBAS scores require a veterinarian’s sign off?

AHA – Most producers should require only a score of 6 and not need to get veterinary oversight of their plan and testing.

Qld producers who have sold cattle into WA in recent years have needed a vet to do a Check test on their cattle annually. Now they will also need the vet to oversight their biosecurity plan. This could be done at the time of testing, or remotely if the vet is already familiar with the property; the vet’s signature can be obtained at next visit or by scanned and emailed document. The WA entry requirements for NT cattle mean that a similar thing will need to occur for NT producers wanting to access WA.

WA producers should only need a J-BAS 6 to access NT, unless there are other specific buyer requirements.


The default position nationally (not including WA) has been lifted to JBAS 6, whether a producer currently has an on-farm biosecurity plan or not (but presumably all will from 1 October 2017 when new LPA rules are introduced). Does a score of JBAS-0 still actually exist? If so, in what context?

 AHA – Yes, infected and suspected herds would be a 0, unless they implement a plan and then progress up the J-BAS ladder based on time since last clinical case and years with a plan. 

  • Any further questions you would like answered? Leave a comment below or email and we will endeavour to find answers for your questions as soon as possible.



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  1. don lawson, 02/07/2017

    Now that johnes whether its ojd, bjd or the bison strain is linked as one, how come WA can get away with this restriction on trade when they have endemic Johne’s under the new guidelines. Why haven’t Animal Health Australia /RMAC/MLA/CCA. Who has the legal responsibility under the 1997 AMLI act to protect producers challenged by this blatant restriction on trade.

    Who is going to be liable for the damage to an individual who has to test under their guidance to trade within Australia and gets a false positive test and finds he cant honour contracts because these entities have endorsed a test that is not reliable and can thus have devastating impacts on those doing the right thing.

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