What you need to know

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need a National OJD Management Plan?

Ovine Johne’s disease (OJD) is a silent but costly disease. Sheep may look healthy but shed high numbers of bacteria and spread the infection before the disease becomes apparent. In infected flocks, OJD has a serious welfare and financial impact, as it affects growth and production. Infected sheep can waste away and die.

Infected flocks are a risk for the whole sheep industry. The bacteria causing OJD can be brought onto a property either by purchasing infected sheep, from straying sheep or spread from neighbouring infected properties. Under the right conditions the bacteria can survive in the environment for long periods. The sheep industry needs to work together to effectively control OJD.

Why are changes being made to the National OJD Management Plan?

The current OJD Management Plan finished last year. An extensive review of the Plan has been undertaken and through public consultation a number of improvements to assist producers to control and prevent OJD have been identified.

What are the changes?

The revised Management Plan delivers a national framework for states to work from in setting OJD policy. It relies on a risk management approach and gives producers greater responsibility to manage their OJD risk.

Sheep Health Statements (SHS) will continue to be used, but with the removal of the current ABC point scheme. The ABC Scheme was built around the existence of recognised prevalence areas which will no longer exist.

Producers will be encouraged to collectively develop their own Regional Biosecurity Plans (RBPs), due to the added effectiveness of a collective approach. Guidelines will be provided to assist groups of producers in preparing RBPs.

What is a regional biosecurity plan?

A regional biosecurity plan documents the agreed actions by you and other farmers in your region to collectively implement biosecurity measures to limit the spread of OJD, and could be extended to include other endemic diseases. It will outline measures like conditions on sheep movements into the area, vaccination policy and response to disease detection.

Are there limitations on sheep trade?

The National OJD Management Plan does not interfere with the sheep trade. However, some areas or states may choose to put in place entry requirements. More information on State movement restrictions is available at http://www.ojd.com.au/state-movement-requirements/

Trading or moving sheep always carries an OJD risk and therefore you should always use a Sheep Health Statement to obtain the best information available.

When will the changes take effect?

The revised plan will take effect from 1 July 2013.The current arrangements including prevalence areas and the ABC scheme will be in place until then.

What should I be doing now?

Producers should:

  • purchase sheep with a Sheep Health Statement
  • maintain good on-farm biosecurity practices (www.farmbiosecurity.com.au for biosecurity tips)
  • provide a Sheep Health Statement when selling sheep not for slaughter
  • consider the benefits of vaccination
  • request your abattoir test your sheep at slaughter
  • start liaising with fellow producers, consultants, vets, and the state departments on preparing a Regional Biosecurity Plan
  • Visit this website for further information as it becomes available.