Fit to trade bulletin

The Fit to trade bulletin promotes government and industry partnership across the biosecurity systems that protect and enable WA's livestock businesses to trade into domestic and international markets.

WA producer gets the all-clear for JD in targeted testing scheme

Kevin Nettleton with Limousin cattle.
Kevin Nettleton at his Boyanup Limousin stud.

Western Australian cattle breeder Kevin Nettleton has been quick off the blocks to get his herd tested for Johne’s disease (JD) under the voluntary targeted testing scheme funded by the WA Cattle Industry Funding Scheme (IFS).

A Limousin stud breeder based in Boyanup, Mr Nettleton said he was contacted with an invitation to participate in targeted testing for Johne’s disease because he had imported cattle from Johne’s disease risk areas in eastern Australia after 2005.

 “I was happy to participate as testing is required anyway if you want to have a score of 8 under the new Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS),” Mr Nettleton said.

“My business provides recipients for embryos from a South Australian Limousin stud and a J-BAS 8 supports this.

“I also support continued state border controls for Johne’s disease and this targeted testing is needed for these border controls to remain in place.

“The testing was done very quickly and easily. The local Department vet in Bunbury, Kevin Hepworth, contacted me to organise a convenient time and the whole job was done in a couple of hours.

“And I’m delighted to say, I was the first WA producer to receive results in October that show our herd has the highest assurance possible that it is JD-free.

“Negative test results for JD can be used as a great marketing tool as it provides a level of assurance to buyers that the animals don’t have JD.

“I would encourage anyone who has received a letter from the Cattle IFS to consider nominating their property for testing,” Mr Nettleton said.

Mr Nettleton also developed an on-farm biosecurity plan in consultation with his private vet as part of his J-BAS 8. 

“This was really just putting down on paper some of the common sense farming practices that I have been doing for years and which make good business sense as well as supporting my on-farm biosecurity.”

WA Cattle IFS Management Committee chair Steve Meerwald said that testing of WA properties that had imported cattle from 2005-2015 from JD risk areas was necessary to allow WA to continue to regulate the disease and to maintain border controls.

“Before JD in cattle was deregulated nationally last year, WA was recognised as a bovine Johne’s disease free zone and any cases of JD in cattle were quickly eradicated under an industry funded surveillance scheme,” Mr Meerwald said.

“However, the last structured surveillance carried out in WA for JD in cattle was in 2005.

“In order for WA to continue to regulate and to maintain border controls that minimise the risk of JD in cattle entering the state, it is now time to repeat this more intensive targeted surveillance to confirm the state’s negligible prevalence.”

The Cattle IFS has contacted southern WA cattle producers who have imported cattle from risk areas since 2005 and asked them to participate in free testing for the disease on their property. Testing also satisfies J-BAS requirements.

“The invitation to participate in the program has been enthusiastically received,” Mr Meerwald said.

“Testing of these southern properties will continue over the next few months. Producers who received an invitation can still register their interest to participate by contacting the Department.”

Northern cattle property owners will be contacted shortly, with the aim that testing can be carried out to coincide with mustering early next year after the wet season.

Testing is being carried out by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, which will regularly report summary results to the Cattle IFS Management Committee.

“Results from the testing will form the basis for further consultation with the WA cattle industry as to whether regulation and border controls will continue,” Mr Meerwald said.

Visit the DPIRD website at for more information about JD in cattle and its regulation in WA.