Farmers’ knowledge of Johne’s disease and opinions of the Irish Johne’s Control Programme: results of an online survey answered mostly by young farmers

Louise Horan, John F. Mee, Niamh L. Field, Siobhán W. Walsh, Ainhoa Valldecabres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A voluntary control programme for Johne’s disease, the Irish Johne’s Control Programme (IJCP) has been implemented in Ireland since 2017. The objective of this observational study was to assess Irish beef and dairy farmers’ Johne’s disease knowledge, implemented management practices and IJCP opinions. A questionnaire open to dairy and beef farmers was distributed via social media and email. In total 126 responses were used for this study; these responses came from mostly young farmers (18–25 years old) and represent a small proportion of the total number of dairy and beef farmers in Ireland whose average age is 55. Most respondents claimed to know what Johne’s disease was (73%; 92/126) and associated the disease to loss of body condition (68%; 78/114) and diarrhoea (59%; 67/114). Twenty-eight respondents (mostly dairy farmers; 22/28) reported positive cases in their premises. And 38% reported to implement management practices to prevent Johne’s disease transmission within or into their herd (i.e. management of milk for calf consumption and isolation of Johne’s test-positive or newly purchased stock; 47/124). Eighteen percent (22/125) of respondents were, at the time of questionnaire or previously, members of the IJCP. The main benefits reported by some of the participating farmers were identification of positive cases (29%; 4/14), and management of milk for calf consumption (21%; 3/14). While the main disadvantage was inaccurate testing methods (50%; 10/20). The main reasons reported for the lack of participation in the IJCP were not being aware of the programme (52%; 53/102) and not having a Johne’s disease problem on the farm (48%; 49/102). In conclusion, this study suggests that while young farmers are aware of Johne’s disease, their participation in the IJCP is limited and could benefit from further promotion. Studies representing the wider farming community in Ireland are warranted to gather non-biased input and contribute to Johne’s disease control in Ireland.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Pages (from-to)31
JournalIrish Veterinary Journal
Volume76
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2023

Keywords

  • IJCP
  • Infectious disease
  • Questionnaire
  • Voluntary control programme

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