Voluntary abattoir surveillance for Johne’s disease in sheep
National Sheep Health Monitoring Project
The National Sheep Health Monitoring Project (NSHMP) provides feedback to producers on a range of health conditions that are monitored in abattoirs around Australia. NSHMP inspection of sheep does not require a request form to be filled out and does NOT cover Johne’s disease (JD). Inspection for JD will only occur on request except at TQM, Cressy. Any lesions detected will be further tested to confirm JD at a laboratory (tissue examination – histopathology). Your state government representative will usually contact you with the results of the abattoir inspection.
Producers can request that their sheep are inspected for JD when sending them through abattoirs participating in the NSHMP. You can request inspection for JD by contacting your relevant state government representative or the abattoir. This should be done well in advance of the sheep being sent to the abattoir (e.g. one week).
Requirements and eligibility of sheep
Animals must be over 2 years of age to be eligible for abattoir JD inspection. Sheep under two years have generally not had sufficient time to develop signs of the disease and thus be identified through abattoir inspection.
Only consignments of sheep sold direct to a participating abattoir will be eligible. Sheep sold through saleyards will not be eligible.
What is Abattoir 150 and 500?
At least 150 sheep, over two years of age, have been submitted to an abattoir in the past 12 months, in one or more lots, and have been examined and all found negative for JD in sheep. The sheep must have been on the property for at least two years.
At least 500 sheep, over two years of age, have been submitted to an abattoir in the past 24 months, in one or more lots, and have been examined and all found negative for JD in sheep. The sheep must have been on the property for at least two years.
If JD is detected?
If lesions consistent with JD are detected in the abattoir inspection, samples will be taken and sent to a lab.
These lesions will then be assessed microscopically by a Veterinary Pathologist to confirm whether the JD bacterium is present and responsible for the lesions sampled.
Once confirmed by the laboratory, your state government representative will inform you of the final results (usually by letter) and can assist you with options on how to proceed in the management of the disease.
If JD is not detected?
Having no lesions detected in a consignment does not necessarily mean your flock is free from JD. It means that it is unlikely JD has been present for a long period of time at a significant level within this group of animals, or that management on farm through long term, appropriate JD vaccination is working if there have been cases in the past.
Regular faecal testing of a representative sample of your flock is still the best way to demonstrate that your flock is at low-risk of having JD.
At the request of the producer, their respective state government can issue certificates for animals slaughtered within the state, verifying that the sheep flock is eligible for either an Abattoir 150 or Abattoir 500 status. This can then be used when declaring your JD status on the National Sheep Health Declaration.
Requesting JD inspection
Jessie Thomson, Animal Health Adviser, Primary Industries and Regions SA
Phone: (08) 8568 6400
Mobile: 0427 274 102
Anna Erickson, Veterinary Officer, State Ovine Johne’s disease Activity Leader
Biosecurity and Regulation, Western Australia
Phone: 08 9881 0211
Mobile: 0437 801 416
Animal Disease Enquiries