Ovine Johne's disease management program in SA

The management of endemic sheep disease, Ovine Johne’s disease (OJD) or Johne’s Disease (JD), is set to change in South Australia from 1 July 2019 with the lifting of restrictions on sheep movements into the state.­

Existing movement restrictions remain in place until 1 July 2019. All sheep movements into SA prior to this date MUST adhere to the current entry requirements.

Minimum requirements for sheep entering South Australia fact sheet (PDF 232.9 KB or DOCX 139.6 KB)

Changes to the OJD management program from 1 July 2019

  • Movement restrictions relating to JD for sheep entering SA will no longer be in place.  To minimise the risk these animals may pose it is recommended that all sheep entering SA should be vaccinated for Johne’s Disease, either before entry or on arrival in SA.
  • Completed National Vendor Declarations (NVD) and National Sheep Health Declarations (NSHD) will still remain mandatory.
  • Johne's disease in sheep remains a notifiable disease and must be immediately reported to PIRSA Animal Health. See the reporting animal disease page for instructions if you suspect OJD is present in sheep or other species.
  • Without movement restrictions there is increased ability for producers with JD-infected flocks to trade sheep. Producers need to check the status of animals BEFORE purchasing - check the NVD and NSHD. If you do not understand the OJD risk, seek advice from PIRSA before purchasing animals.

The removal of movement restrictions is aimed at assisting producers to restock once dry conditions ease, making sheep trade between states easier. Removing interstate movement restrictions will also see stronger alignment in South Australia to the national management arrangements for the disease through the national OJD program.

South Australian OJD Management Program

PIRSA administers the South Australian OJD Management Program that is supported and funded by the SA Sheep Advisory Group (SASAG) through the Sheep Industry Fund. The program aims to reduce the economic impact of OJD in sheep through:

  • encouraging producers to voluntarily investigate and manage Johne's disease in their flocks
  • ensuring declaration of OJD disease risk is made for all sheep sold or entering SA through use of the National Sheep Health Declaration
  • increasing industry awareness through education of OJD risks and their management
  • promoting low-risk trading and management practices.

For more information on entry requirements for sheep coming into SA, see moving sheep to South Australia from interstate page.

Voluntary OJD testing

Producers can choose to investigate or monitor for OJD in two ways:

  • voluntary abattoir inspections (producer requested)
  • voluntary on-farm testing by private veterinarians and producers (producer requested).

Abattoir testing

Voluntary Abattoir surveillance can be used to:

  • provide low disease risk assurance; abattoir 500 and 150 status
  • monitor the levels of the disease in a known infected flock
  • alert producers to new infections.

Producers can request that their sheep be inspected for OJD when sending sheep through abattoirs. Voluntary inspections can also be arranged at participating abattoirs interstate.

Learn more about voluntary abattoir surveillance in sheep.

On-farm testing

Voluntary on-farm testing of flocks with symptoms of Johne’s Disease can be conducted by private veterinarians or PIRSA Animal Health staff.

Flocks showing signs of a distinct 'poor' tail end of the mob, weight loss or increased mortality can sometimes be confused with nutritional diseases or internal parasites. Thorough disease investigations are recommended to ensure accurate diagnosis and minimise the economic impact of endemic diseases.

Subsidised disease investigations may involve either post-mortems of clinically affected animals or pooled faecal testing from 50 to 100 high risk animals.

How to manage OJD risks

A Property Disease Management Plan (PDMP) can be individually developed for each property to assist producers to manage their OJD risks through PIRSA’s One Biosecurity program.

Animal Health Officers will work with producers to develop pathways to lower the impact of the disease and help achieve a low risk status.

Depending on best practice related to individual production symptoms, the PDMP may include recommendations regarding:

  • vaccination with Gudair
  • strategic grazing practices
  • straying animals
  • trading options
  • property declarations and tagging of sheep.

If producers fail to meet reasonable biosecurity measures to manage OJD, orders may be placed on the property under the Livestock Act 1997.

Declaration of OJD Risk - Buyer beware

The National Sheep Health Declaration is required for all sheep movements between properties in South Australia. This document contains information on the history of the flock, OJD testing, abattoir monitoring and vaccination.

Producers are urged to review this information BEFORE purchasing sheep to decide whether the animals are suitable to introduce to your property. Your livestock agent can assist you accessing this information.

Contact PIRSA Animal Health for more information on risk-based purchasing.

Sheep Market Assurance Program - SheepMAP

The Sheep Market Assurance Program (SheepMAP) is part of the National Johne's Disease Control Program. It is a classification scheme to assure sheep breeders and their clients that participating flocks have been objectively assessed as having low risk of being infected with Johne's disease.

SheepMAP is voluntary and the costs are borne by the participating flock owners. Producers can register with the program to promote their low risk Johne's disease status.

Producers are also encouraged to buy sheep from flocks participating in the SheepMAP program.

Learn more about SheepMAP

'Approved Vaccinate' Status

To be eligible for 'approved vaccinate' status on the National Sheep Health Declaration, sheep must be:

  • vaccinated with an approved OJD vaccine before 16 weeks of age and marked with a 'V' National Livestock Identification System tag
  • vaccinated after 16 weeks and from a flock that meets one of the following criteria:
    • registered to a SheepMAP flock
    • has returned a negative Pooled Faecal Culture 350 or High Throughput Johne's 350 in the two years before being vaccinated
    • has a current Abattoir 500 status.


Dr Jessica van de Weyer
PIRSA Veterinary Officer
Phone: (08) 8762 9140
Mobile: 0459 858 906
Email: jessica.vandeweyer@sa.gov.au

Page Last Reviewed: 13 Jun 2019
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