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Cattle health
Blood testing for better Johne’s disease control
  1. Catriona Ritchie
  1. Axiom Veterinary Laboratories, The Manor House, Brunel Road, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 4PB
  1. E-mail: catriona.ritchie{at}

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I would like to draw the attention of vets to the benefits of including blood testing as part of a Johne’s disease control programme in dairy herds.

The most important times to know a cow’s Johne’s status are at drying off and pre-service. My experience, from many years of reporting results for herds testing through cattle health schemes, is that serum antibody titres generally increase over time when using the ID Vet ELISA. Having a result at drying off is usually sufficient to know whether to re-breed the cow in the next lactation (or to breed to a beef sire depending on the level of the result and prevalence in the herd). An additional blood test around 30 days into lactation, as a pre-breeding test, can be useful to detect those cows that suddenly lose control of infection and become antibody positive after calving.

It is important to avoid antibody testing in the periparturient period from around two weeks before calving to about two weeks after calving. This is due to the …

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