In 2017, QDO committed to undertake Johne’s testing for its members free of charge. The deadline for testing had been extended by the Australian Dairy Farmers and now has a final deadline date of 30 September this year. While Johne’s has not yet been detected in any significant numbers in Queensland, QDO and the Queensland Government want to be proactive and have a statistical baseline for ongoing monitoring.
To test as many herds as possible over the next few months, QDO has employed a new graduate Lara Williams to work with Project Manager, Torie Harrison. Lara has a Bachelor in Sustainable Agriculture from University of Queensland (Gatton) and has previously worked in agronomy focusing on hydroponics and running trials to improve productivity and sustainability.
While the JD testing process is not complex, it does involve some significant coordination to ensure that samples are viable. The samples are taken by scraping the dairy yard after milking in an ‘X’ or ‘W’ pattern. For the testing method, Herd Environmental Cultures, the perfect environment for bacteria growth is provided to encourage the growth of BJD bacteria, if present, so it can be detected. The BJD bacteria is a very slow growing organism so results take 14 to 16 weeks.
QDO is also helping the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries by supplying samples to their lab. They are looking at an alternate testing method to identify BJD through the identification of the bacteria’s DNA. If successful, this method will provide a faster result on samples so farms can respond quicker to any outbreak.
Both Torie and Lara have received training from Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Principal Veterinarian Lawrence Gavey on how to collect Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD) samples for testing. They aim to collect from up to 16 farms a week and have already got a good start on the Darling Downs.
There will be time for members to ask questions about JD and the testing process while the Torie or Lara are on the farm, but the aim is to minimise disruption to the daily routine of the farm and the herd.
To ensure that testing can be done as efficiently and economically as possible, testing is being coordinated by geographic regions. Testing is currently taking place in and around the Darling Downs. Members from all regions are encouraged to contact the office on 3236 2955 as soon as possible to book their farm in for testing.
There will be limited opportunities for the QDO officers to return to regions if members wait to book.
Eric Danzi – QDO Executive Officer