A team of veterinarians and animal scientists from Michigan State University are completing a multi-year research study looking at control and prevention of Johne’s disease (JD) in cattle herds. Over the course of the past eight years, eight Michigan dairy and one beef operations have been a part of a multi-state research project tackling one of the most prevalent animal health issues. Through disease testing and the establishment of proper management protocols, the herds involved in the study were able to effectively manage and reduce the presence of JD in their herd.

The Michigan Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project is a cooperative program between Michigan State University (MSU) College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This project was part of the larger National Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project. The objective of the project was to demonstrate and investigate management factors that are effective in controlling JD. The project goals were as follows:

  • To evaluate the effectiveness of Johne’s disease control strategies.
  • Develop new knowledge on Johne’s disease through field research.
  • Promote the Michigan Voluntary Johne’s Disease Control Program.
  • Develop Johne’s disease education resources.

The enrolled herds represented a variety of management systems.  Initially, a herd risk assessment was conducted to identify areas in the operation where JD might be transmitted. A JD control program was developed for each individual herd. This plan was developed in cooperation with the herd owner/management, their herd veterinarian, and others involved with the herd. The prevalence of JD in the respective herds was tracked annually through repeated testing. Each herd’s control program was reviewed annually and updated as necessary. Information gathered from this long-term interaction was incorporated into research and educational efforts.

Several field based research projects were conducted to develop new knowledge on the control of JD. Results of these projects have been reported at national meetings and published in peer reviewed publications.  General themes for these projects have included:

  • Risks and importance of calves shedding Mycobacterium paratuberculosis
  • Role of environmental contamination in Johne’s disease control
  • Economic cost and benefit of Johne’s disease control
  • Frequency of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis on skin of cows in maternity/close-up facilities
  • Development of new management tools to help control Johne’s disease
  • Evaluation of different testing strategies

The Michigan Johne’s Control Demonstration Project has made an impact on the future of the dairy and beef industry. The program will continue to educate producers on management decisions that benefit their businesses and promotes cattle welfare.

A summary of the research and peer-reviewed publications is available upon request by contacting Dr. Dan Grooms, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, A100 VTH, East Lansing, MI 48824 (groomsd@cvm.msu.edu) or a PDF version can be found online at http://cvm.msu.edu/johnes .