August 15, 2018

New Zealand Orders Mass Cattle Cull To Eradicate Disease

30 May 2018, 11:13 | Rodolfo Wallace

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

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor speaks with Southland Rural Support Trust chairman John Kennedy

The bacteria is not harmful to humans and does not pose a threat to food safety.

In an attempt to eradicate a disease-causing bacteria from cows, politicians and industry heads in New Zealand agreed on Monday to kill some 150,000 of the creatures.

Despite initially being contained to farms in the South Island, the disease has continued to spread and reached the North Island earlier this year.

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

Jacinda Ardern says the government will work out the amount paid to each farmer on a farm-by-farm basis. The cost of killing the cows is estimated at 886 million New Zealand dollars.

A program to slaughter some 26,000 cattle is already underway.

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Mycoplasma Bovis has been found on about 40 farms so far but the government believes 192 properties will eventually be involved in the cull. About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.

The Mycoplasma bovis was reported in New Zealand for the first time in July, 2017. That's more than two cows per person in the country. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost. "This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having a test that clearly identifies the individual animals yet".

"He will provide strategic science advice across MPI and his first task will be to head up a new Mycoplasma bovis Science Strategic Advisory Group". "But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd".

Authorities are still trying to determine if the strain arrived through imported live cattle, frozen semen, embryos, veterinary medicines and biological products, feed, used farm equipment, or other imported live animals.

Mycoplasma bovis can cause such ailments as mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis.

However, Ardern said New Zealand - which relies heavily on livestock farming for its export earnings - would aim to eradicate the disease completely. Norway is now the only one.

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