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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
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Preventing Introduction of Johne's Disease

Disease Information

Johne's disease usually enters a herd when healthy but infected animals are introduced to the herd. Herds that are not infected should take precautions against introduction of Johne's disease. Such precautions include keeping a closed herd, or requiring replacement animals come from test negative herds. In 1998, the United States Animal Health Association approved the Voluntary Johne's Disease Herd Status Program for Cattle (VJDHSP). The VJDHSP provides testing guidelines for States to use to identify cattle herds as low risk for Johne's disease infection. With numerous tests over several years, herds progress to higher status levels. The higher the status level, the more likely a herd is not infected with Johne's disease. In April of 2002, USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services-Veterinary Service incorporated portions of this program into its national program standards: Uniform Program Standards for the Voluntary Bovine Johne's Disease Control Program (VBJDCP). VBJDCP test negative herds (often referred to as Status Herds) serve as a source of low Johne's disease risk replacement animals. For more details on the VBJDCP, ( click here).


Some basic prevention strategies are:

  • Calves, lambs, kids, etc. should be born in a clean environment.
  • Reduce the newborns exposure to manure from adult animals by separation when possible.
  • Avoid manure contamination of feed by using feed bunks and not using the same equipment to handle feed and move manure.
  • Avoid manure contamination of water sources were animals drink.
  • For natural colostrum needs of newborn animals, use colostrum from Johne's negative animals.
  • Do not pool colostrum.
  • Avoid natural nursing and milk feeding whenever possible. Feed an artificial milk replacer or pasteurized milk instead of raw milk to supply the needs of newborns. Never feed pooled milk or waste milk.
  • Thoroughly clean the udder and teats before collection of the colostrum to avoid manure contamination.
  • MAP can survive up to a year in the environment so if possible, for pastures that have become contaminated, till the ground or graze using non replacement feeder cattle.
  • Identify all females in the herd. Identify and remove, or keep separate all test positive animals.
  • Prevent infection from spreading by culling, or separating offspring of infected mothers as soon as possible.
  • If purchasing herd additions, try to buy from low risk herds. Some herds are enrolled in the Voluntary Bovine Johne's Disease Control Program to help identify their herd as low risk.


Work with your veterinarian to develop a strategic plan for Johne's prevention and control for your farm. Consult with them about which Johne's test is best for your situation and use a test certified diagnostic laboratory.

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