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Four herds vie for national award for Johne’s disease control ‘best practice’

Published 22 June 2017

Four producers have made it to the final of the 2017 NMR HerdWise competition for their commitment to controlling Johne’s disease on their dairy unit.
Two herds are from Shropshire, including the 400-cow organic herd belonging to Tim and Louise Downes. This is the second time that the herd has made it to the HerdWise competition final.
Johne’s disease management in this cross-bred spring calving herd is very concentrated over the short calving period and reliant on strict protocols. 
The second Shropshire-based herd belongs to Steve and Carolyn Cope. The 800 Holstein Friesian cows calve all year round and are predominantly in a housed system. All animals testing positive for Johne’s disease are identified and high risk cows and their offspring are bred to beef.
Moving to the south west, ACF Drax Farm from Dorset is also a finalist for a second time. The 280 Holstein Friesian cows on this unit are run on a grass-based system backed up with a TMR. Again, any cow testing positive for Johne’s is tagged while heifers with clear results are bred to sexed semen.
Dan Britten’s Somerset-based herd has also made the final. Johne’s disease management in this 270-cow herd is practical, with realistic goals, that take account of its expansion plans and TB challenges. 
Cows are constantly monitored for body condition, health and production parameters in conjunction with their HerdWise results. They implement strict biosecurity when buying in stock to avoid introducing new infection.
“We’re not looking for the herd with the fewest cases of Johne’s disease, but we want to see good protocols in place and followed accurately,” says Lyndon Edwards, chairman of the National Johne's Action Group who will judge the four finalists, along with NMR vet Karen Bond.
“We want to see the commitment that the unit and its team have to controlling Johne’s by using HerdWise test results and that progress is being made.”

This year’s winner will be announced at 1:30pm on the NMR stand at the NMR/RABDF Gold Cup farm walk on June 28, 2017. The event is being held at the Bugler’s farm (2016 Gold Cup winner), Pilsdon, Bridport, Dorset.
The HerdWise Competition is open to all NMR customers who use the CHeCS accredited quarterly milk screening service HerdWise.