Producers urged to keep up with BJD changes

Beef Central, 17/07/2012

Australian cattle producers are being reminded that a new National Strategic Plan is now in effect across the country to manage Bovine Johne’s Disease.

The new plan is based on risk management of BJD and divides Australia into four BJD areas /zones:

  • Western Australia will continue as a Free Zone
  • Queensland, Northern Territory and the northern pastoral area of South Australia will remain Protected Zones
  • New South Wales and the southern agricultural area of South Australia will become Beef Protected Areas
  • Victoria and Tasmania will be classified as Management Areas.

The main changes will affect New South Wales and South Australia, in which the current Control and Protected Zones will be replaced by the Beef Protected Area (BPA).

Within the BPA there will be a separate 'dairy compartment', which is defined as farms that supply milk to a dairy factory, and includes any land the dairy cattle have run on.

Biosecurity Queensland principal veterinary officer, Dr Lawrence Gavey, said it was essential that producers in Protected Zones which had low incidence of BJD remained aware of the strict entry requirements applied to the introduction of cattle from other states and zones/areas.

"Producers need to protect their herd, by educating themselves on the disease, knowing the entry requirements and making detailed enquiries regarding the herd history before introducing new animals to their herd,” Dr Gavey said.

"BJD can have a serious welfare and financial impact if it is not controlled, as it affects production and market access, seriously disrupting farm businesses.

"Johne´s disease is one of those situations where an ounce of prevention is worth a tonne of cure."

BJD is a serious wasting disease of cattle which can lead to loss of production and death and is seen more often in dairy herds than beef herds. BJD is also an infectious disease of goats, deer and alpacas.

Dr Gavey said the disease affected animals by causing thickening of the intestinal wall resulting in a reduction in the normal absorption of food.

"The disease is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis) that lives mainly in animal intestines, but can also survive in the outside environment for several months," he said.

"The bacteria causing BJD can be brought onto a property by purchasing infected animals, agisting infected stock of unknown status or from straying animals.

"Cattle acquire infection at an early age through eating contaminated pasture or drinking contaminated milk or water."

For full details of the National BJD Strategic Plan, visit


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