The aim of the present study was the examination of the boot swab sampling technique for the collection of environmental material in order to identify Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP)-infected herds. Eight dairy herds were included into the study. Four of them had a well-known history of MAP-infection from a herd surveillance programme conducted since 2006. Cows in these herds were repeatedly tested positive in Pourquier® MAP-ELISA (Pourquier, Montepellier, France); in some MAP could be isolated in individual faecal culture despite that symptoms of paratuberculosis were never reported. In four presumably negative herds nearly all cows were repeatedly tested serologically negative for MAP. The pathogen was never isolated from faecal samples of cows by culture. The study was initiated with the aim of standardising environmental samples as a herd diagnostics, in which overall 130 pairs of boot swab samples from the cows’ surroundings were taken In 58 of 64 swab samples (90·6%) from confirmed MAP-infected herds the organism could be isolated by mycobacterial culture of the boot swab. Contrarily, in 66 samples from presumably MAP-negative herds only one swab was positive (1·5%). The utilisation of boot swabs as a standardised technique for environmental sampling offers an effective and inexpensive tool for identifying herds infected with MAP. This is the first report of using boot swabs for the collection of environmental samples for MAP- detection in cattle herds. This easy to perform technique enables the economical detection of MAP herd status.