In a straw poll conducted at ScotSheep 2024, 80% of farmers polled admitted to having thin ewes and 86% had heard of Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD), however only 49% had received advice from their vet and just 54% were considering testing.

Given that ScotSheep attendees are ‘cream of the crop’ producers, they do see thin ewes in their flocks, yet potential iceberg diseases are not top of mind. Flocks with OJD display a shorter productive life – sheep can die from 2 years of age, therefore there are higher replacement costs. It has also been shown that there is a reduced percentage of lambing, rearing, finishing, and reduced cull ewe values. Feed and medicine costs are also often higher, as is the contribution to greenhouse gases.

There is a concentrated focus upon the control of Johne’s in cattle and since 2021, OJD must be monitored in dairy goats registered with Red Tractor. In both goats and sheep, there is the opportunity to vaccinate with Gudair but in our poll, only 20% of sheep farmers attending the NSA were aware of Gudair.

It is also important to note that sheep can be infected by both the sheep and the cattle strains of MAP, so as a source of infection it is essential to consider contact between cattle and sheep.

Gudair can be utilised, coupled with flock management changes and good hygiene practice, as part of a long –term strategy, to control MAP and its impact on flock productivity. The use of Gudair has been shown to reduce shedding and mortality by 90%, so is an effective way to help reduce clinical disease and the spread of infection, whilst limiting the impact on productivity.

The first step in controlling OJD is testing and identifying the most appropriate method for your clients is key as is assisting them to access the current subsidies available for iceberg disease testing in England and Wales with the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway and in Scotland with the Preparing for Sustainability scheme.

For more information about Gudair®contact your Virbac Territory Manager.

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