National Milk Records (NMR) has invested £350,000 in a state-of-the-art robotic machine that will be integrated into the ELISA testing procedure for its Johne’s disease screening services.

It’s the first robotic testing equipment in place in the UK for Johne’s screening services.

Based at NMR’s NML West Midlands laboratory, the new, robotic machine provides an automated platform to link key stages of the ELISA test together.

The ELISA antibody test is the most commonly used means of detecting Johne’s in individual cow milk samples.

“The new robot enables us to automate the whole ELISA test,” said NMR managing director Andy Warne.

The robotic arm carries the testing plates with milk samples between the testing stages, as well as through the incubating and plate reading stages. And the process is carried out consistently within the precise timings required in an ELISA test.

NMR is seeing a significant increase in demand for Johne’s testing and it anticipates that this will continue as more producers work with their vets on Johne’s control, as part of the National Johne’s Management Plan.

Compliance with the National Johne’s Management Plan became a requirement for all dairy herds supplying milk under the Red Tractor assurance scheme in October 2019 and accounts for 96% of UK milk production.

It’s estimated that currently around half of the UK’s milk producers have a Johne’s declaration that they have an active Johne’s control plan in place.