[29 August/Rural News] Johne’s disease remains an issue for livestock farmers New Zealand-wide and is a chronic, contagious and generally fatal disease. While the levels of this production limiting disease are low, the industry cannot afford to become complacent, reports Matt Ward, Beef + Lamb NZ’s General Manager North Island. Mr Ward states the bacteria that causes Johne’s disease (Mycobacterium avium Paratuberculosis) is widespread in NZ and infects at least 50% of flocks and herds. Despite the bacteria being everywhere, the rate of clinical disease is very low with only 15 oh herds testing positive between 2008 and 2010. Young animals are the most susceptible to the disease and Jersey cows are shown to be three times more susceptible to Johne’s disease than Holstein-Friesians. DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ and Deer Industry NZ joined forces to form the Johne’s Advisory Group (JAG). This working group supports and gives insight to the industry on R&D and the control and management of the disease.