Farmers explore the lessons of Johne’s Disease in cattle

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A SERIES of spring and summer events for livestock farmers has been planned to inform and update farmers on the progress of a research project seeking the best way to address Johne’s Disease or paratuberculosis in Scotland’s cattle including one that will take place in Brechin’s Northern Hotel on March 27.

The PARABAN project, now in its final year, has worked with “champion farmers” and their vets who have helped explain their progress with what is a complicated and difficult disease.

Since the project began in 2010, researchers from Scotland’s Rural College, the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, and the James Hutton Institute have worked with farmers and their vets to identify the best way to control paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease) in Scottish conditions.

The meetings offer an informal forum allowing farmers, vets and researchers to openly discuss the challenges of Johne’s.

Johne’s disease affects the cow’s digestive system and can lead to severe weight loss and diarrhoea.

Infected cows may show poor performance and infertility problems. Not all infected animals appear ill however; ‘sub-clinically’ affected cows are capable of silently infecting other cattle whilst showing no obvious signs of disease themselves.

The events will help farmers understand how to test for and control Johne’s and highlight the benefits of having a control strategy in place.

The meetings will focus on the conclusions that can be drawn from two years of intensive testing of blood and faeces from cattle, abattoir sampling and analysis of the environment around farms.

Farmers will hear how this intensive research programme has built a picture of Johne’s disease on the nine champion farms at the core of the project and given us a greater understanding of how the disease exists in Scotland.

The meetings will take place on or near the Champion farms on the following dates: March 27 – Brechin (dairy); April 9 – Dalston, Carlisle (dairy); April 30 – Torr Farm, Castle Douglas (dairy); May 16 – Dulnain Bridge, Grantown on Spey (beef); May 22 – Humbie, East Lothian (beef); June 7 – New Cumnock, Ayrshire (beef)

For more information contact Jo Baughan on 01463 246061 or email jo.baughan@sruc.ac.uk