Monday, July 9, 2012

Protect Your Herd from Johne's Disease


Emaciated cattle with Johne's disease
Johne’s disease is incurable, chronic, infectious disease of ruminants. Cattle are mostly affected, and sheep and goats are less affected. Major symptom of this disease is progressive wasting in all clinical cases although the infected animals eat normally. Shooting diarrhea (continuous or intermittent) is common in infected cattle, but only occassionally seen in sheep and goats.

How does the disease transmit?

  • Fecal contamination from the affected animals; if there is one affected animal in the herd, the environment is contaminated and there is a chance that all susceptible animals get infected
  • Colostrum and milk from infected dam
  • Dam to fetus through placenta

How soon an animal get infected?

  • Fetus gets infected before birth if the dam is infected
  • Healthy newborns born to a contaminated environment get infected within 30 days of birth from contaminated colostrum, milk, water, food, etc. 

Emaciated goat suffereing from Johne's disease

 When does the infected animal show disease symptoms?

  • This disease has a long incubation period showing clinical symptoms after two years of age and beyond
  • Disease symptoms can be commonly seen in 2-6 years age group

How do you protect your herd?

  • There is no effective treatment for this disease
  • PREVENTION is the only way to protect the herd 

 Disease Prevention

  • Buy animals only from sources with ‘Johne’s disease free’ status
  • Unknown history does not mean no disease
  • Get your herd tested for Johne’s disease
  • If positive cases are found in your herd, take the following steps: 
  1. Identify and remove the positive animals or depopulate all the herd
  2. Give at least one year of rest to the contaminated pastures as the bacteria causing this disease can survive in the environment for a year or longer
  3. Thoroughly clean all the facilities
  4. Start over with 'Johne’s-disease-free' herd after enough rest for the contaminated pastures  
  • If no positive cases found, get ‘Johne’s disease free’ status 
  • Maintain a close herd
'AL Johne's Newsletter Beef- Summer2012' presents how Johne's disease is trammitting from herd to herd. Appropriate actions need to be taken now to protect your herd from this severely wasting disease. 

Tests for Johne's Disease and Certification of Your Herd

Contact Johne's Coordinator at your state. Contact inforamtion is availalable for coordinators from all US States at this link:; click the state of your interest in the map to view the contact inforamtion for the coordinator and other Johne's contact persons in the state. Moreover, this site contains several educational articles you can take advantage of.

'Johne's Disease Newsletter, Fall 2012' - read and take necessary precautions to protect the livestock herd and the possible environmental contamination.

New - 'Johne's Disease Newsletter, Winter 2013' - discusses precautions that need to be taken while buying bulls, testing for Johne's disease, and management strategies to minimize the prevalence of Johne's disease. Take advantage of reading this newsletter and apply necessary precautions to protect your livestock. 

Updated - Jan. 11, 2013

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Save your animals from heat stress

Heat Stress in Animals

Animals need to be in a "comfort zone" to perform well. Comfort zone is a temperature range in which animals do not have to spend any energy to maintain their normal body temperature. Comfort zone differs depending on animal species, breed, and age. However, temperature ranging from 60oF to 80oF is comfortable to most of the livestock species. Environmental temperature higher than 85oF combined with high humidity is stressful to farm animals. In this kind of environment, animals try to minimize heat stress by seeking shelter, drinking cool water, wallowing in water, panting, increasing respiration rate, sweating (if they have sweat glands), minimizing feed intake, and so on. Heat stress may cause reduced animal performance, abortion in pregnant animals, and even death.

Cattle congregated under trees on a hot day, Union Springs, AL

Current situation and animal care

Currently, most part of USA is experiencing heat wave. Livestock producers have to pay particular attention to take care of their animals to minimize the loss that may occur from existing weather condition. Few tips are presented below to minimize heat stress in animals.

  • Make sure animals have access to shelter or shade all the time. Natural shade from trees have a great value to protect animals from heat and direct sunlight 
  • Provide enough cool, fresh drinking water to animals
  • Let the animals graze in the cooler portion of a day – early morning and late afternoon or evening
  • During the hot portion of a day, provide a good quality hay and other supplementary feeds as necessary under the shade if you determine that grazing on pastures during the cooler portion of a day is not going to be enough for fulfilling the nutrient demand of the animals
  • If animals are housed in a constructed structure, sprinkling water couple of times during the hot portion of a day will facilitate the evaporative cooling and minimize heat stress