Western Australia’s Ovine Johnes Disease (OJD) status was downgraded from low to medium in 2011. This cost our region access to the adjoining South Australia premium market for selling breeding sheep.
Even though our members had no previous experience with OJD we did know it was present in the Great Southern area of WA. With no controls placed on stock movement and no requirement to use the Sheep Health Statement (SHS) we decided we could become exposed and needed to know more about OJD.
We commenced an abattoir surveillance testing program in 2011 and this was very strongly supported for 2 years. The MLA project commenced after the new National guidelines for OJD management were released in July 2013. Unfortunately, our testing levels dropped off due to farmer complacency following low levels of detection in the previous period. We also ran into problems with accessing all test result data due to DAFWA confidentiality restrictions.
Following a visit to Kangaroo Island we changed to Pool Faecal Culture (PFC) testing and deliberately sought and tested high risk locations and situations. We almost immediately found more positives and communicated this to our members which resulted in an increased demand for tests. We also evolved our group into a QA style structure that incorporates, at an arm’s length, an Independent Veterinary Monitor (IVM).
We have dug deep enough for long enough with our testing to justify a recommendation for vaccination. Those that tested positive during this program will be assisted by the Independent Vet Monitor (resourced by ASHEEP Flock QA).