Get your boots on: crazy rush to meet Johne’s biosecurity deadline

Pat Ryan, "Meriden", Merriwa,  says he'll go with a template from Western Australia for his biosecurity plan.
Pat Ryan, "Meriden", Merriwa, says he'll go with a template from Western Australia for his biosecurity plan.

​A last minute scramble by cattle producers to put biosecurity plans together to retain their health status for bovine Johne’s disease by June 30 has highlighted major gaps in communication.

Producers face falling to a J-BAS (Johne’s Beef Assurance Score) rating of zero if they miss the deadline. 

Local Land Services and vets have hurriedly set-up workshops to get producers over the line. Although the plan is voluntary, stock agents warn a biosecurity plan will be important in the saleyard.

It is almost essential seedstock producers and replacement heifer vendors obtain a J-BAS of at least 6, and in most cases a J-BAS of 8 to sell interstate.

Scores over 6 will require vet approval, who may need to visit the property. Vets have also been caught out - some are hurriedly completing accreditation conditions to certify the J-BAS scores.

The new Johne’s system replaces the old zonal classification, and was announced by Animal Health Australia last year. It appears that message failed to get to many cattle producers.

It is believed producers seeking Livestock Production Assurance certification with Meat and Livestock Australia will need a Johne’s biosecurity plan. 

Another big carrot, is that if a producer falls to a J-BAS zero rating, it could take six years to obtain a J-BAS 6 rating again, a vet said.

Merriwa Limousin breeder, Pat Ryan, “Meriden”, is among producers racing against the clock. It was essential for his business, as a seedstock provider.

“The chances of me trading interstate are very high,” Mr Ryan said.

With the deadline approaching, Western Australia will continue to require a J-BAS of 8 for cattle entering from south-eastern states (J-BAS of 7 from Queensland), while the Northern Territory will require a score of 6. 

To add to the confusion, there are multiple templates for the plan, some larger than others. Mr Ryan will be choosing a template from Western Australia after consultation with his vet.

After June 30, the next deadline is in June 2018 for the 50 cattle test to keep the J-BAS 7 or 8 score. That involves a soil and herd test.