About DeerPRO

DeerPRO (formerly Johne’s Management Limited (JML)) is a branded unit of Deer Industry New Zealand established in 2007 to promote the control of Johne’s disease in farmed deer in New Zealand. It has a single full time Project Manager, Dr Solis Norton, and a Technical Manager, Dr Kathy Goodwin-Ray under part time contract. The programme is directed by an Advisory Group representing deer farmers, the venison processing companies, the Deer Industry New Zealand executive, and including a person with veterinary expertise. At present these positions are filled by Murray Coutts, Simon Wishnowsky, Innes Moffat, and Richard Hilson.

DeerPRO has the following mission statement:

‘To provide services and assistance to the New Zealand deer industry for the control of Johne's disease based on monitoring and maintenance of a national database’

The DeerPRO national database

DeerPRO maintains a strictly confidential national database of all farm raised processed deer. It includes the presence of lesions indicative of Johne's disease, termed JD-suspect lesions, identified in deer at processing during routine carcass inspection by AsureQuality meat inspectors. 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 notify and encourage the owners to complete a Deer Health Review with their veterinarians taht sets out how the disease will be monitored and controlled on-farm.

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 the Deer Health Review process for Johne's disease 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 information on the Technical Manual click here

A Farmer Manual is also available which approaches the control of this disease from an on-farm perspective.

Copies of both these manuals are freely available on request.

Programme activity on-farm
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 with a Deer Health Review to control the disease and review other aspects of herd health. 
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.  

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.