Across 1,569 dairy farmers who have enrolled in a Johne’s disease programme in NI up to October 2022, nearly one-third (31.5%) reported suspect case(s) of Johne’s disease, the results of a new study show.

The research paper, which has been published in the scientific journal Vet Record, states that a further 13.7% of local dairy farms have had a confirmed case of Johne’s.

Herd testing for Johne’s is not a mandatory requirement of the programme, although it is recommended.

Overall, 21.4% of the dairy herds had undertaken screening for the disease.

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast found that herds that use the same pen for calving cows and treating sick animals “were significantly more likely to be a high-probability Johne’s disease herd”.

In addition, accidental mixing of neighbouring herds and farms that graze rented land were significantly more likely to be at a high risk for Johne’s.