About DeerPRO

DeerPRO (formerly Johne’s Management Limited (JML)) was established in 2007 to promote the control of Johne’s disease in farmed deer in New Zealand. It has a company structure with a single full time Project Manager, Dr Solis Norton, and an independent chairman (Geoff Neilson). The Board of Directors is comprised of two directors representing farmers, Murray Coutts and and Richard Hilson, and two directors representing the venison processing industry, Dan Coup and Simon Wishnowsky. The company has a Technical Manager, Dr Kathy Goodwin-Ray, under part time employment. It is funded by the deer industry and has the following mission statement:

‘To provide services and assistance to the N.Z. deer industry for the control of JD based on monitoring and maintenance of a national database’

The DeerPRO national database

DeerPRO maintains a strictly confidential national database of JD-suspect lesions identified in deer at processing during routine carcass inspection. Over 99% of farmed deer processed since the start of 2007 are in this database and linked to their farm of origin.  Regular analyses of this data monitor the disease in space and time. The database is also used to identify farms with a high or rising incidence of JD-suspect lesions and to work with the owners and their veterinarians to establish Risk Management Plans for these properties.

DeerPRO works with AsureQuality, the government owned national providor of food safety and biosecurity services, to train meat inspectors in the detection and recording of JD-suspect lesions in deer to ensure our records are consistent and of high quality.

Guidelines for implementing control

A comprehensive Technical Manual for veterinarians to assist them in developing on-farm control Risk Management Plans for JD has been created by the Johne's Research Group 2. DeerPRO promotes this document as a key resource for veterinary understanding of the disease. For more informatio on the Technical Manual click here

A Farmer Manual has also been created with an on-farm rather than veterinary focus on the control of JD. It was sent to all deer farmers in New Zealand in 2010 and copies are available on request from DeerPRO. More information on the Farmer Manual is available here.

On-farm actions
Every six months DeerPRO contacts two groups of farmers who have sent deer with JD-suspect lesions for processing during this period, via a notification letter. These groups are farmers that have had a high rate of JD-suspect lesions indentified in their deer and farmers that have had the very first or second lesion detected in their deer. The letter describes the disease, the implications of the lesions and urges the farmer to seek veterinary support in establishing a herd health plan to optimise herd health, including the control of JD. 
DeerPRO plays an active role in promoting the on-farm control of JD both at the group and individual farm level.  We participates in field days organised by the Deer Farmers Association, the P2P productivity improvement programme, and Deer Industry New Zealand to promote herd health and the use of benchmarked information in understanding herd performance.  

Research
The focus of DeerPRO is technology transfer to the farm level, rather than research into the disease. However we do undertake research in-house for monitoring and self review. We support and assist research providers in Johne's disease including Crown Research Institutes, Universities and the now concluded Johne's Disease Research Consortium. Strict protocols around data confidentiality regulate the contract conditions under which data is provided to these parties.