Government set to eradicate mycoplasma bovis

Government set to eradicate mycoplasma bovis

Ronald Pratt
May 30, 2018

About 126,000 cows are expected to be culled, mainly over the next two years, as government and industry work to depopulate all infected farms, the government said in a statement. They say numerous cows will be slaughtered at processing plants and used for beef, but some cows will have to be killed and buried on the farms or dumped in approved landfills.

Mycoplasma bovis, bacteria that can cause mastitis, pneumonia, and other diseases in cattle, was first identified in the country in July and has since spread to at least 37 farms.

The initial outbreak led to concerns that the disease could affect market access for New Zealand's dairy products, and caused a brief dip in the New Zealand dollar.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls", she said.

The main aim of this culling project is to protect the New Zealand economy, with milk being the countries single largest export.

Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand in July a year ago, and manifests in mastitis in cows, severe pneumonia, ear infections and other symptoms.

The cows will be killed in phases and the first phase will kill around 26,000 cows, process for which is already underway. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.

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

However, many healthy cattle will also be killed in the cull.

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.

The eradication of Mycoplasma bovis will not be an easy one, but is possible because it's not widespread and there's only one strain of the disease out there.

The problem with Mycoplasma bovis is that it's hard to detect and doesn't respond to antibiotics.

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