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The BJD outbreak: what you can do to control the spread

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article image Animal management products can be used to control the spread of disease

Last week, cattle situated on a property south of Rockhampton tested positive for bovine Johne’s disease (BJD), a potentially fatal condition that young calves in particular are susceptible to.

While ABC News notes that John McVeigh, Queensland Agriculture Minister has said that risk assessments of approximately 160 properties are soon to be complete, Animal Health Australia (AHA) has said that it will take at least four months to determine the extent of the outbreak.

Every property that has received cattle from the Rockhampton stud must be traced, and then each will require an assessment to determine whether or not cattle are infected.

“This is expected to take at least four months, but may be much longer due to the length of time for bacterial cultures to be completed, the number of tracing the expected wet seasonal conditions,” states a news release on the AHA website.

The disease typically spreads via:

  • Transportation to shows, artificial breeding centres, other properties 
  • The introduction of livestock from other properties
  • Runoff from other properties
  • Faeces
In the event that your cattle become contaminated with BJD, the NSW Department of Primary Industries suggests the following steps be taken to control its spread:

  • Minimise contact between calves and the faeces of cattle that are two years of age or older
  • Place calves in separate pens 
  • Place older cows in pens that are exposed to the sun
  • Avoid walking calves through mud 
  • Fix drainage problems so pens and feed areas remain dry 
  • Hose down hard surfaces to remove mud and faeces
RP Rural Engineering offers a range of animal management products that can be used to assist in the control of BJD.

Self locking headlocks

Designed to work on both concrete feed pads and freestall sheds, these self locking headlocks prevent feed and manure from being mixed together.

The self locking headlocks ensure that uncontaminated cattle do not consume the faeces of contaminated cattle, which is of particular use in those instances where breeders do not yet know that their cattle are carrying the disease.

The self locking headlocks can also be used to separate uncontaminated and contaminated cattle when they feed by allocating different feeding times and thoroughly cleaning the feed area in between. 

Feed manure scraper

Circular in shape and equipped with a large reversible rubber edge, these heavy-duty feed manure scrapers clean feed areas effectively as they move both wet and dry manure from feed areas with ease.

They can also be used to remove uneaten feed from feed pads.

Flush valves

When connected to a manifold and header tank, they can be used to flush out mud, faeces and the like from feed and other areas.

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