Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) and what it means for WA producers

Page last updated: Thursday, 22 November 2018 - 11:49am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

This web page provides a summary of the key points about how the Johne's Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) applies to Western Australian cattle producers. For a printable version, see the Documents link.

J-BAS in brief:

  1. The J-BAS is a tool implemented by Animal Health Australia on behalf of Cattle Council of Australia that provides a guide to the risk of Johne’s disease (JD) occurring on a beef cattle property.
  2. Producers can use their J-BAS score (in conjunction with other tools) to demonstrate to buyers the risk of Johne’s disease (JD) being present on a beef cattle property.
  3. Participation in J-BAS is voluntary. It is not regulated by government.
  4. The higher the J-BAS score, the lower the risk of that property having JD.
  5. J-BAS is used to assess JD risk when cattle are imported into WA.
  6. All beef herds in Western Australia received the highest assurance level of J-BAS 8 (as long as they did not have a history of ovine Johne’s disease on the property) when the J-BAS was introduced on 1 July 2016.
  7. To maintain J-BAS 8, producers were required to complete a property biosecurity plan signed by a vet by 1 July 2017.
  8. To maintain or return to a J-BAS score of 8, WA producers need to meet several requirements – see below.

Frequently asked questions about J-BAS

Do I have to have a J-BAS?

No. The scheme is voluntary; there is no legal requirement to be in the J-BAS.

It may, however, be important for you to have a J-BAS depending on your business needs. Some buyers may require a certain J-BAS.

How do I know if I need a J-BAS?

Step 1: Assess your individual production system, biosecurity needs, and the markets you sell into. Your buyers will determine if you need a J-BAS - if they don’t require one, you may not need one. Contact them to check their likely future requirements.

Some live export markets are sensitive to JD, however, it is unlikely that abattoirs, feedlots and the live export industry will require a J-BAS as they use other measures. If you are selling or moving livestock interstate, the buyer may require J-BAS. Buyers within WA may also require you to have a J-BAS.

Also consider your own biosecurity needs – if it is important for your business to have a high biosecurity level, the J-BAS may help you achieve this.

Step 2: Think about your production systems into the future. You may not need a J-BAS now but if you do wish to sell into JD-sensitive markets in coming years, J-BAS may be required. Testing and time delays will be expensive if you allow your J-BAS to drop and you want to return to a higher score at a later date.

What is required to participate in J-BAS and what is the timeframe?

All beef herds in Western Australia received the highest assurance level of J-BAS 8 (as long as they did not have a history of ovine Johne’s disease on the property) when the J-BAS was introduced on 1 July 2016.

If your property did not complete an on-farm biosecurity plan by 1 July 2017, your J-BAS has dropped to 6. To return to a J-BAS 8, you need to complete a vet-signed biosecurity plan by 1 July 2018. 

To maintain a score of 7 or 8, laboratory testing is required by 30 June 2018. No property can maintain a J-BAS score of 7 or 8 without testing. Testing requirements are on the Animal Health Australia (AHA) website at animalhealthaustralia.com.au/jd-cattle-tools. Test definitions are available in ‘JD in cattle definitions and guidelines’, also on the AHA website.

The J-BAS flowchart (see the Documents link) may also assist your decision-making in conjunction with veterinary advice.

Why is an on-farm biosecurity plan required under J-BAS?

The risk of JD occurring on a cattle property is related to the biosecurity history and current biosecurity management of that property.

A documented on-farm biosecurity plan that is reviewed and signed by a veterinarian provides evidence that a property has current biosecurity measures in place to reduce the likelihood of JD entering a property.

Producing and following a farm biosecurity plan also reduces the likelihood of introducing and spreading all animal diseases as well as pests and weeds.

Most biosecurity measures are low-cost and easy to implement but could prevent long-term and costly damage to your business. Use your veterinarian’s expertise to help tailor your biosecurity plan to your operation.

There are guidance templates available to suit your production system – see Helpful resources below.

How does J-BAS or Dairy Score affect what I need to do to import cattle into WA?

All regulatory requirements for bringing livestock into WA are contained in the Livestock Biosecurity form 1 (LB1)

Cattle being brought into WA will need to meet the J-BAS or Dairy Score specified in the LB1.

What if I have properties in WA, South Australia and the Northern Territory and want to move my cattle between them?

Import requirements apply (see form LB1) and will need to be met even for properties under the same ownership. In special circumstances you can apply for an import permit, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. 

What will happen if my cattle test positive to Johne’s disease in cattle?

JD is a reportable disease in Australia, and JD in cattle is currently regulated in WA. If testing is positive for JD in cattle, the property will be placed under regulatory control while the diagnosis is confirmed. If confirmed, the WA Cattle Industry Funding Scheme (Cattle IFSMC) will decide on a case-by-case basis if the disease will be eradicated on the property or not. This decision will be informed by the results of a targeted surveillance program for JD in WA cattle.

Will I get compensation if JD is found in my cattle?

The decision on compensation will be made by the Cattle IFSMC after consultation with industry. Compensation is generally made available for any animals that are slaughtered as part of a regulated disease eradication program.

If we find JD in cattle in WA, will the industry decide to deregulate?

Detections of JD in cattle will lead to a review of the management of JD in WA. The number of detections leading to this trigger point will be determined by the Cattle IFSMC after consultation with industry. The Cattle IFSMC is currently undertaking targeted surveillance for JD in cattle in WA.

What about sheep strain JD?

Sheep strain JD is endemic in WA. While it is generally found in sheep, it can infect cattle. If you have sheep strain JD on your property, this will affect your J-BAS.

Sheep strain JD is not regulated in WA, even if it occurs in cattle. It is still a reportable disease so you must notify a Department veterinarian if it is diagnosed on your property.

What if I am a dairy producer?

If you are a dairy producer and want to maintain a score for JD assurance, see the Animal Health Australia website at animalhealthaustralia.com.au and search ‘National Dairy BJD Assurance Score’.

Helpful resources

Resources are available to help producers with on-farm biosecurity risk management. Some examples of biosecurity plans are available from:

Contact information

Bruce Twentyman
+61 (0)8 9363 4127