Farmers need to take the lead in protecting their stock
Farmers need to take the lead in protecting their stock from disease this Gypsy day.
With Gypsy Day around the corner, stock and equipment will be moving between properties, so farmers need to ensure they take the right precautions to lower their risk of cross contamination. “The outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) means farmers need to take the lead in ensuring their greatest assets are protected,” said Michael Lee, agribusiness specialist and Partner at Crowe Horwath.
“Policies need to be in place prior to stock leaving farms, and there needs to be clear communication of these to trucking companies, and all employees and contractors on the farm,” Lee explains. “The potential of loss is huge, with dairy farmers potentially losing their greatest asset, their cattle. It would mean they would essentially have no income.”
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has published information around the current risk and is being transparent in their attempts to stop the spread of M.bovis. However, the industry is still struggling, as there is yet to be clear guidelines circulated to people such as trucking companies, who are a key component to dairy farmers in the next month, with stock moving for winter grazing and Gypsy Day.
Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, agrees that farmers need to take the lead in securing their own fate. “Farmers have to double check that firstly they’re not moving infected animals and that the farm you’re going onto is not infected or one of interest. It’s up to the farmers to check those things for themselves,” he said.
Lee adds, “equally important, is ensuring the transportation companies have strict policies on only transporting one farm’s stock at a time. Also, that the truck is empty of effluent and fully disinfected before the truck arrives on the property.”
O’Connor also concedes that, “the migration has to go ahead. Grass has stopped growing in the South Island, they need to move them where they can feed over the winter. It’s a big, big call to say, ‘stop no movement.”
Lee said, “With the unavoidable movement of stock, farmers need to have strict policies in place and communicate these well. They need to ensure contractors and workers are aware of the policies prior to entering the property.” Lee concludes, “Farmers are urged to get in contact with agri professionals for policies or guidelines around lowering your risk of contracting M.bovis, but if you have any concerns for your animals’ health contact a professional.”