Friday, 21 September, 2018

New Zealand to cull more than 100,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma disease

Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand predicted to cost $1 billion over 10 GERALD PIDDOCK STUFF Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand predicted to cost $1 billion over 10 years
Melissa Porter | 30 May, 2018, 11:09

The Government has announced that it will attempt to eradicate the cattle disease mycoplasma bovis.

The disease, which causes udder infections, pneumonia and arthritis in cows but has no effect on milk and meat for human consumption, was first discovered on a farm on the South Island last July.

Arden herself said she empathizes with the farmers who will have to undergo having all their cows slaughtered, but the government and cattle industry are in agreement that the long-term consequences of letting the disease spread far outweighs any incurred losses with the eradication plan.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really disgusting", said Katie Milne, the organisation's president.

A cow is seen near the fence of a pastoral farm near Auckland August 6, 2013.

These are indeed large figures but they should be placed against the $8 billion economic contribution of the dairy industry, $2 billion from the beef industry, the country's reputation as a food producer and, perhaps most importantly, animal and farmer welfare.

The slaughter represents only a fraction of New Zealand stock, a herd of 10 million cattle in more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms.

Around 24,000 cows have already been killed in recent months.

The Prime Minister's disappointed at the speed of compensation for Mycoplasma Bovis culled animals. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost. MPI says a substantial part of a farmer's claim for culled cows should now take 4-10 days, with a fully verified claim taking 2-3 weeks.

Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, said it was important to try to get rid of Mycoplasma bovis while there was still a chance.

"Standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers", she said.

Officials say they should know by the end of the year whether the eradication plan is working.