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Exploring the Lessons of a Debilitating Cattle Disease

Published Tuesday, 15th May 2012 in SAC Consulting news

A series of four early summer, free events for livestock farmers are being planned to discuss research underway into a debilitating cattle disease.

The PARABAN Project aims to find the best way to control Johne’s disease (pr. yoan ese) in Scotland. The four events follow other gatherings held across the country this year where farmers, vets and researchers have exchanged ideas and experiences.

  • Event 1:   May 23rd; Overcairn Farm, New Cumnock, Ayrshire, KA18 4NW (beef)
  • Event 2:   May 30th, The Tweeddale Arms Hotel, Gifford, East Lothian, EH41 4QU (beef)
  • Event 3:   June 14th, The Northern Hotel, Clerk St., Brechin, DD9 6AE. (dairy)
  • Event 4:    June 28th, Torr Farm, Auchencairn, Castle Douglas, D&G, DG7 1QN (dairy)

Johne’s disease, or paratuberculosis, affects the cow’s digestive system and can lead to severe weight loss and diarrhoea. Infected cows may show poor performance and infertility problems. Not all infected animals appear ill however; ‘sub-clinically’ affected cows are capable of silently infecting other cattle whilst showing no obvious signs of disease themselves.

All of the events will involve a morning session where farmers researchers and vets can discuss the research programme. After a free lunch there will be the opportunity for a farm walk, either on the host farm or one near the hotel venue for the morning session. All the meetings will start at 10.00am with those people choosing to attend the farm walks finishing at 2.30pm.

The four champion farmers and their vets play a key role in helping those attending find out more about deciding their testing and control strategies. The sessions cover an overview of the farm and management, the management of Johne’s disease, blood and faecal testing, post-mortem analysis and environmental measurement. There s also an opportunity to hear how new avenues of research are helping to shed more light on the disease, including its persistence in Scotland’s cool, wet environment. Much of what we know about it is based on experience in countries where the climate and other conditions are different. The hands-on perspective farmers and practice vets can offer researchers is very valuable.

The four roadshows round off the initial series of events to launch the Paraban programme. The next series is already planned for the autumn. An essential element of the programme remains the open discussion about Johne’s disease where farmers can describe the problems it brings to their livestock and businesses and researchers can explain how they are using the input from farmers to identify the best control strategies.

The three year PARABAN research project involves nine champion farmers and is funded by the Scottish Funding Council, in partnership with Scottish Government. It involves research and industry collaborators, including SAC, the University of Edinburgh, the James Hutton Institute and University of Glasgow.

For more information and to assist with catering arrangements, those planning to attend are asked to inform Jo Baughan on 01463 246061 or email

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