Ewe Wastage - Johne's Disease

Johne's is present on 70% of farms and has contributed to 22% of total ill thrift diagnoses in NZ in the last 5 years, followed closely by Trace Element deficiency, showing us that it's a problem in New Zealand.  Johne's disease is caused by a bacteria that infects lambs while suckling or grazing, persisting in the gut and flaring up at stressful times such as a pinch of feed or shearing.  Ewes subsequently lose a significant amount of condition and eventually die.  Vaccination with Gudair as a hogget markedly reduces the onset of disease and contamination of the farm with the Johne's bacteria. 

Phil Smith runs 8500 Romney-Merino crosses just outside Naseby and has been vaccinating his sheep for Johne's for 10 years.  Prior to vaccination, Phil was losing 200-300 sheep each year, which was attributed to Johne's.  Once vaccination started there was a massive improvement in the hoggets the following year, ewe wastage continued to drop yearly until all animals were vaccinated.  Another appreciable difference to Phil was that there were no tail enders slowing down droving and a lot less faecal staining of wool in the yards at shearing time.  A contractor experienced with use of Gudair vaccine jabs all the hoggets on the conveyor in late September which covers them for life.  Phil still benefits from reduced ewe wastage and improved production and welfare.  There is no longer restrictions with slaughter of vaccinated animals.  More details will be presented at our roadshows including returns on investment.