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

Ignacio Smith
May 31, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis was first observed in the cows of South Island only but gradually it has spread up to the North Island also in the current year.

So far, 38 farms have been affected by the cow disease.

Last week the country's biggest dairy company Fonterra, pitched its opening farmgate milk price for the 2018/19 season at $7.00 per kg of milksolids - one of its highest yet.

Those included finding the disease was more widespread than surveillance and modelling anticipated, or a property was found that predated the earliest known infection of December 2015.

Cabinet's decision has the support of Federated Farmers and the NZ Veterinary Association, although the former is well aware of the emotional and psychological effect on farmers.

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

Officials carrying out the cull "have the legal authority to forcibly enter farms and kill animals even in cases where a farmer might resist, but they said they hope they don't have to use those powers", Bloomberg reports.

The government would contribute about NZ$591 million to the eradication program, while the rest would be borne by industry bodies and farmers, Ardern said. If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services. Improvements to the system are underway to make this easier to do in future.

"Mycoplasma bovis is a hard disease to diagnose and to control".

"Spring testing this year will give us the opportunity to reassess the feasibility of eradication when results are in come February, as Mycoplasma bovis is at its most detectable after calving", said Damien O'Connor.

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Mr O'Connor said he had asked the Ministry for Primary Industries to revisit the compensation process and a new "streamlined" approach had been developed for those whose animals were culled to enable a substantial payment "within a matter of days".

The government said that along with the country's farming sector leaders, it had agreed to cull 126,000 cows. It will only be clear by the end of year if the culling of the cows is working.

To not act at all is estimated to cost the industry $1.3 billion in lost production over 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across our farming sector.

The government will meet 68 percent of the $870 million, or about $592 million, and DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand will meet 32 percent, or about $278 million.

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