A new Johne’s progress tracker developed by the Johne’s Action Group has been embraced by dairy management companies to include milk recording organisations NMR and CIS.

The tracker provides vets and producers with a more powerful tool for interpreting Johne’s test results than has been available in the past.

It works on an individual farm basis by comparing the farm’s data with benchmarks recognised as having a significant impact on infection rates.

These benchmarks were identified from data analysis, carried out by the University of Reading, from more than 50,000 cows in 257 randomly-selected herds, all carrying out quarterly Johne’s testing.

“With the help of Reading University, we are including the top 25% level and the average for each parameter,” says Peter Orpin, chairman of the Johne’s technical group and dairy vet.

“Comparing these key parameters with individual herds will highlight where a herd’s strengths and weaknesses are in terms of Johne’s control. This more data-driven approach will help farmers and vets make informed decisions on Johne’s control.”

The Johne’s Action group has encouraged milk recording organisations to report the new progress tracker in a consistent way.

“They have been keen to take up this challenge and work together for the greater good. It means that vets and advisers can help producers access the herd’s Johne’s status in key areas and identify where best progress can be made,” added Mr Orpin.

The new progress tracker is available to all herds using quarterly Johne’s screening services. It is incorporated into NMR’s HerdWise Johne’s screening service from July 21, 2021, along with the CIS YourHerd online portal.

In addition to the progress tracker, the screening services will provide an average test value (ATV) for each herd, also developed by the action group.

The ATV is the numerical average of the herd’s Johne’s milk test results at any given time. It will change over time to reflect both the number of animals infected and the severity of infection. This simple visual representation, alongside the progress tracker, will give a clear picture of disease progression both within and between herds.