Animal Health Ireland (AHI) has reached its target of 1,000 dairy herds enrolling in its voluntary Johne’s disease control pilot programme.

Mike Magan, chairman of AHI, confirmed that the target had been met when he spoke last night at the DCU Ryan Academy Farm Entrepreneurship and Leadership dinner last night.

Commenting on the programme, he said: “We asked for a thousand herds and we have passed a thousand herds today (Tuesday). There is huge demand. Over a hundred herds a day have been applying.”

Magan noted: “Nobody was looking for anything about costs. So we’re going to wait and see how the pilot goes, which the Department of Agriculture has are very kindly helped us with the costs of running.”

The AHI chairman said the objective of the pilot programme is to test, evaluate and refine the various programme components, including data handling, diagnostic and on-farm advisory elements and cost-benefit analysis that would be required to support a future, extended Johne’s disease control programme in Ireland.

The programme is to financial support the first 1,000 herds enrolled in the programme. It consists of three specific components including the enrolment stage that is now completed, herd screening and risk assessment and disease management advisory visit.

The department also funds a veterinary on-farm risk assessment and disease management advisory visit. It also notes that only veterinary practitioners who have undergone specific training provided by AHI will be approved to undertake the assessments.

The pilot programme will run until the end of 2014. AHI will then make a decision as to whether to extend or expand the pilot programme.