Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

New Zealand to cull over 100000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma

New Zealand to cull over 100000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma

Cabinet's decision to opt for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is a bold one and probably the right one, but will involve a lot of anguish and pain for farmers and must be closely scrutinised right through the programme. 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.

The bacteria, Mycoplasma bovis, can cause cows to develop ailments such as mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis.

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. A further 126,000 animals, at 192 properties, will be added to the cull, at a cost of NZ$886 million (€526 million, $615 million). The dairy herd of the country reportedly has around 6.6 million cows.

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

The Mycoplasma bovis was reported in New Zealand for the first time in July, 2017.

About 26,000 cattle have been killed since the disease was detected and at least a further 128,000 are likely to be killed.

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A massive 150,000 cows will be culled as the Government pushes ahead with eradication attempts.

"If we don't take this one chance, the disease will spread and the risk of it eventually affecting many of our herds is high", Poel wrote in a statement for DairyNZ.

"This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having yet a test that clearly identifies the individual animals", he said.

"It is in the national interest of our country to be free of Mycoplasma bovis", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press briefing in Wellington.

An investigation launched by the country's Ministry of Primary Industries to determine how the bacteria wound up in the country is still ongoing.

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