What is a Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS)?
It’s a risk profiling tool developed for use in the new approach to Johne’s disease (JD) in beef cattle. The scoring system is from 0 – 8 (0 being ‘Unmanaged risk’, 8 is ‘High Assurance’). There is also a Dairy Score for dairy cattle with a similar range of scores that have been designed to line up directly (i.e. Dairy Score of 6 should signal an equivalent JD risk as J-BAS 6).

The scores have been developed to allow a producer to assess the risk of a herd for JD and are based on having a biosecurity plan for the property. Producers should ask further questions if worried about JD, and not just focus on the score alone. There is a checklist on AHA’s website to help with questions that could be asked.

Is J-BAS voluntary or mandatory?
J-BAS is a voluntary tool. It has however, been referenced in WA and NT entry requirements, so is necessary for those markets. Under J-BAS, each producer is responsible for their own risk management.

What will happen if I don’t have a biosecurity plan by 30 June 2017?
Over the past 12 months, all herds were given a J-BAS Transition Score based on the zones they were in under the old system. Herds in NSW, Qld, NT and northern SA were given a transition score of J-BAS 7, as were herds known as Beef Only. All herds in WA were given a transition score of J-BAS 8. These transition scores expire on 30 June 2017.

Without an on-farm biosecurity plan 1 July 2017, herds with a transition score of 7 or 8 will become J-BAS 6. (Herds which have had a clinical case of Johne’s disease within the last five years are not eligible for the default score of 6 and will transition to a score 0, 2 or 4 depending on the time since the last clinical case.)

In an important update, producers have an opportunity to return their herds to J-BAS 7 or 8 by implementing a biosecurity plan straight away (overseen and signed by their veterinarian) and conducting the first of their triennial check-tests by 30 June 2018 with clear results.

How do I know what score I should give myself?
The scores are based on the likelihood of a herd’s previous exposure to JD and a producer’s preparedness in managing risks. The score sheet can be found on the JD in cattle tools page.

What score should I aim for in my business?
Many producers may decide that they do not need a score if JD is not a disease that they are worried about with their business. If you are a producer who accesses the WA market or NT market, or are likely to sell cattle to a producer who does, you should aim to meet their entry requirements.

How is the deadline being enforced?
J-BAS is a voluntary self-declaration. There is no central authority signing off on plans; however buyers, markets and jurisdictions with entry requirements may request a copy of your plan. At this stage producers are urged to have their plans by 1 October 2017 when it’ll be a requirement for LPA accreditation. Doing the plan with the optional JD section filled in will mean LPA will be covered when the time comes.

Is a register of J-BAS herds being kept?
No. J-BAS is a voluntary self-assessed scheme with the plan being held by the producer. There may be support in the future for J-BAS 7 and 8 being held on a voluntary register for marketing purposes.

Where do I find a biosecurity plan template?
The On-farm biosecurity plan template has been developed to help producers with developing a plan and can be found on the Animal Health Australia website here. Other acceptable templates exist (e.g., LBN’s template, the vet BioCheck), but this is the template offered for general use.

Where do I submit my biosecurity plan?
There is no requirement for formal lodging of the plan. It is to be stored somewhere easily accessible so you can refer back to it when required or produce it when requested. The J-BAS is voluntary and assists with management of JD risk; the plan is to assist you in having biosecurity measures in place. The plan is intended to be routinely reviewed so that you can improve your biosecurity practices where required.

Why do I need a veterinarian?
To obtain a J-BAS score of 7 or 8, your biosecurity plan must be checked and signed by a veterinarian and have undertaken a ‘Check test’ with negative results. Without veterinary oversight of a plan you will not be eligible for scores 7 or 8. Where veterinary engagement is required, a veterinarian’s role is to discuss and assist in the management of biosecurity risks, appropriate to the individual farm. They should also be consulted for any JD management issues.

What is a ‘Check test’?
To maintain J-BAS 7, producers must undertake a ‘Check test’ of samples from at least 50 adult animals within the herd (or in a herd of less than 50, all eligible animals). This test is done every three years for maintaining a score of 7 or 8. Producers need to do the first one by 30 June 2018 but should leave ample time to do it so that lab capacity is not an issue. If the Check Test is not done by 30 June 2018, Sample Tests (requiring more animals to be tested) will be required to lift a herd to J-BAS 7 or 8.

Do I need a Cattle Health Declaration?
Although not mandatory for J-BAS, a Cattle Health Declaration is for use by producers to assess the animal health information about animals they may wish to buy. Some states have mandated its use for cattle entering (NT, SA) while it is recommended that the form should be both supplied by the vendor and requested by the buyer for all cattle sales. You can find the form here.

What about other species?
Cross species infection of Johne’s disease can occur. A clinical case of JD in sheep, goats or alpacas on your property will affect your J-BAS score.

What are my biosecurity requirements under Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) from 1 October 2017?
From 1 October, LPA accredited producers will be required to meet biosecurity and animal welfare requirements, and complete a three-yearly assessment in order to be LPA accredited. Under the biosecurity requirements, LPA accredited producers will need to confirm they have a Farm Biosecurity Plan and implement best-practice biosecurity practices in their on-farm management. Producers who have already developed an on-farm biosecurity plan as part of their approach to JD management are not required to complete another.



AHA On-farm biosecurity plan template is for producers to work through, with links to supporting documents to access and fill in as required.

Livestock Biosecurity Network On-farm biosecurity plan template is a template that producers can use to custom-build an on-farm biosecurity plan specific to their property.

Cattle Health Declaration – National animal heath declarations are a way for producers to provide information about the animal health status of their flocks and herds. Buyers should ask for a copy and use the information provided to determine the health risks associated with the animals offered for sale.

J-BAS assurance score

Johne’s Disease score in Dairy cattle – The dairy industry is promoting the use of the National Dairy BJD Assurance Score and adoption of hygienic calf rearing practices through the 3-Step Calf Plan and/or the Johne’s Disease Calf Accreditation Program (JDCAP).