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Ovine Johne’s Disease in Australia

2018 Review of the National OJD Management Plan

Management of Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD) in Australia beyond 2018 will continue as part of the Sheep Health Project at Animal Health Australia, enabling producers to still be able to use all the on-farm practices and tools currently recommended as part of a best practice approach to control.

The previous five-year National OJDMP (which ended in June 2018) is not being extended. The decision has been made by the sheep industry’s peak industry councils – Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia – based on expert technical advice that producers can continue to effectively manage the endemic disease as part of their overall approach to animal health and biosecurity.

Frequently Asked Questions


The NOJDMP ceases in 2018. A decision on the future of the plan could only be made following consultation with all stakeholders.

This work has been completed and Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia announced in June 2018 that management of ovine Johne’s disease in Australia beyond 2018 will continue as part of the Sheep Health Project. This enables producers to still be able to use all the on-farm practices and tools currently recommended as part of a best practice approach to control. Find out more here


The consultation phase was widely communicated to all stakeholders with an interest in the management of OJD. Early in 2018, a Discussion Paper was prepared and circulated, which provided opportunities to take an online survey or provide written submissions. As many people as possible were encouraged to respond and the consultation phase was extended as a final reminder for this to occur. Notices were also published on social media and through several media channels including all major rural newspapers.


OJD has become difficult to manage through a single-species approach. The cattle industry’s management strategy and tools, along with the prevalence of co-grazing cattle and sheep, has replaced the notion that OJD/Johne’s disease can be viewed in isolation across the species. Similar issues are being raised in goats and other species. Instead, a whole-of-farm, integrated approach is required to managing the disease.

It is very important to the sheep industry that producers can purchase sheep with a very low risk of carrying OJD. The key tools to manage the disease are:

    • Vaccination
    • Sheep Health Declarations
    • SheepMAP
    • The National Sheep Health Monitoring Project
    • Regional Biosecurity Plans.

Vaccination is integral in OJD management but producers have identified both cost and work health and safety concerns as hindering a greater uptake. Animal Health Australia will continue to provide advice on the benefits of vaccination, as well as safety messaging, to ensure the uptake is as high as possible, thus providing benefit to the industry as a whole.

Sheep Health Declarations (SHD) are one of the best tools to limit the spread of infection between properties. All producers are encouraged to request a SHD when buying stock and to provide one when selling.

Monitoring for the disease has been made more difficult by the fact that most abattoirs only test for OJD when the producer requests it. Much of the issue surrounds the disease being ‘notifiable’. The sheep industry is working with AHA and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to examine what can be done to change these circumstances and remove the level of ‘stigma’ or perceived cost around a positive test being recorded for a property.


Producers’ day-to-day management of OJD will not change. The same tools and strategies will be available to producers and are already included in the Sheep Health Project.


The Australian Johne’s Disease Market Assurance Programs for sheep – called SheepMAP – is a voluntary program for producers which enables them to identify and promote their monitored negative OJD status to their clients.

SheepMAP is one of the key tools in managing OJD. While a separate review of SheepMAP is continuing, early responses are identifying it is of great value to participants and the industry as a whole. As the review is completed, SPA and WPA will advise its key outcomes.


Regional Biosecurity Plans (RBPs) can play an important role in preventing the spread of diseases such as OJD. Producers have a responsibility to manage risk for all animal health diseases. The policy is built around risk management – that is, individuals implementing good animal health control and farm biosecurity practices and making informed choices when buying livestock. The strength of these systems is enhanced when producers work together as a collective.

A regional approach to biosecurity is a very effective way of improving management and producers in RBP areas are applauded for their heightened awareness of the need to limit the spread of OJD and are encouraged to continue to use all the tools available to do so. A recommendation will be made to the Sheep Health Project Steering Committee to review the guidance documents for RBPs to ensure their integrity and robustness.

Participation in RBPs is entirely voluntary for all producers, and more details can be found on the OJD website.


When the review of the NOJMP commenced, South Australia remained the only state to have regulation in place for OJD where the control program is funded by state industry. Since then SA has removed regulation for OJD.

OJD is notifiable in all states, however there is no regulation regarding the management of OJD at a property level. Each state/territory has the authority to regulate diseases based on its state-based responsibilities.

View the final report from the consultation here

Previous National Ovine Johne’s Disease Management Plan 2013–2018

Funded and driven by industry, Australia’s previous National OJD Management Plan 2013–18 was the culmination of extended consultations between Sheep Producers Australia Australia (SPA), WoolProducers Australia (WPA), state departments of primary industry and other stakeholders in 2012-13.

Australia’s National OJD Management Plan 2013–18 had two main objectives:

  • To minimise the risk of infection by the bacteria spreading to properties and regions that currently appear to be disease free.
  • To reduce the financial impact and adverse animal health and welfare effects of the disease on individual flocks, and on the sheep industry as a whole.

The previous OJD management plan and information about managing OJD and its spread are available on the OJD website, managed by AHA on behalf of both SPA and WPA.

Related links


Page reviewed: 27/04/2020