MPI plans to cull 4,000 cows to stop spread of mycoplasma
By Sophie Boot
Oct. 12 (BusinessDesk) - The Ministry for Primary Industries will cull 4,000 cattle from five farms as it attempts to control the spread of disease mycoplasma bovis.
In July, MPI said the disease had been detected in a dairy herd in South Canterbury, the first known outbreak in New Zealand. Mycoplasma bovis is commonly found in cattle globally, including Australia. It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk, but can have serious effects on cattle.
Today, the ministry said positive results for the disease had been found on just seven properties, "leading us to be cautiously optimistic that we are dealing with a localised area of infection around Oamaru."
Around 4,000 cattle from five of the farms will be culled and the properties will be decontaminated and re-populated after at least a 60-day stand-down period. The affected farmers can apply for compensation for verifiable losses. The other two properties have had a small number of animals culled already and no cattle remain, MPI said.
"This whole operation is about managing the disease while keeping our future options open," director of response Geoff Gwyn said. "We want to minimise the risk of further spread of the disease. Moving ahead with depopulation of the affected farms will allow them to get back to normal business as soon as it is safe to do so."
There are around 5 million milking cows in New Zealand and MPI said it and industry bodies Dairy NZ, Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand believe the measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease.
Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said it supports the continuation of strict movement controls on the remaining 13 properties that have been placed under Restricted Place Notices.
"These restrictions have significant implications for the people concerned, and all other farmers, so this action is essential to keep the option of eradication on the table," Milne said. "We’ve remained free of many pest animals and pest plants (weeds) and diseases that have decimated other countries' livestock industries. For the sake of our livestock industries and the economy, it’s crucial we act now to ensure this remains the case."
The disease was first found on two of 16 farms belonging to Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms. MPI said there is no need to remove animals from other farms in the Van Leeuwen group that are under restriction, though testing of animals on those farms continues and should infection be found, they will be subject to the same measures.