Johne’s disease (JD) is a chronic granulomatous enteritis affecting ruminants. A number of farm management practices are associated with increased risk of JD transmission. The aim of the current study was to document JD-related management practices currently employed on Irish dairy farms.
Survey questions focused on calving area (CA), calf and manure management. Independent variables (region, calving-season, enterprise type, herd size and biosecurity status) were used to examine influences on JD associated dependent variables (survey questions). Additionally general biosecurity practices were also examined.
Results showed management practices implemented by Irish dairy farmers pose a high risk of JD transmission. Of the farmers surveyed, 97% used the CA for more than one calving, 73.5% and 87.8% pooled colostrum and milk respectively, 33.7% never cleaned the CA between calving’s, and 56.6% used the CA for isolating sick cows. Survey results also highlighted that larger herds were more likely to engage in high risk practices for JD transmission, such as pooling colostrum (OR 4.8) and overcrowding the CA (OR 7.8). Larger herds were also less likely than smaller herds to clean the CA (OR 0.28), a practice also considered of risk in the transmission of JD.
Many management practices associated with risk of JD transmission were commonly applied on Irish dairy farms. Larger herds were more likely to engage in high risk practices for JD transmission. Control programmes should incorporate educational tools outlining the pathogenesis and transmission of JD to highlight the risks associated with implementing certain management practices with regard to JD transmission.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13620-014-0027-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.