7550 cows with dis­ease killed

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - HEATHER CHALMERS

Min­istry of­fi­cials are a third of the way through the culling of 22,300 dairy cows in a bid to con­trol the spread of the dis­ease My­coplasma bo­vis.

Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) re­sponse in­ci­dent con­troller Cather­ine Duthie said 7550 cows and other dairy stock had been culled so far since March.

Most of the culling was likely to be com­pleted by the end of May. ‘‘It may, how­ever, not be com­pleted on some prop­er­ties un­til June or July as we are work­ing to ac­com­mo­date the cir­cum­stances of the in­di­vid­u­als im­pacted by the cull.’’

Some of the first farms to be cleared of an­i­mals may be able to re­stock them from the last week in May, en­abling them to po­ten­tially have a re­place­ment milk­ing herd for the start of the 2018-19 sea­son.

‘‘The few farms that are not com­pleted by the end of May will be be­cause a slight de­lay works best for the farm­ers con­cerned. All in­fected prop­er­ties are un­der quar­an­tine lock­down while the cull is tak­ing place.’’

MPI fig­ures show 32 farms are in­fected with M. bo­vis, which can cause lame­ness, mas­ti­tis and abor­tions in cows. MPI said all farms are linked to the orig­i­nal in­fected prop­er­ties be­cause of an­i­mal move­ments and have been caused by close an­i­mal con­tact. An ad­di­tional 4000 cows were killed in an ear­lier cull late last year.

Farms can only be re­stocked once a 60-day stand-down pe­riod had passed. Gen­er­ally the 60 days starts once the farm has been emp­tied of all an­i­mals.

‘‘There are some ex­cep­tions such as if ef­flu­ent has been ap­plied to pas­ture. If this has oc­curred, the farm must be free of stock for 60 days after the last ap­pli­ca­tion of ef­flu­ent. So, tak­ing this into ac­count, some farms that were first to have cat­tle culled will be able to re­stock from ap­prox­i­mately the last week in May,’’ said Duthie.

MPI said it would de­pend on the in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances of farm­ers whether they would need to wait to re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion be­fore be­ing fi­nan­cially able to pur­chase new stock. Some farm­ers had re­ceived part­pay­ments of com­pen­sa­tion to as­sist with cash­flow.

Com­pen­sa­tion for loss of in­come if farm­ers were not in a po­si­tion to have a milk­ing herd in the 2018-19 sea­son, would be as­sessed on a case-by-case ba­sis. ‘‘The gen­eral rule is that farm­ers should be no worse off, but also no bet­ter off as a re­sult of le­gal di­rec­tions made by MPI as part of mea­sures to con­trol a biose­cu­rity risk or­gan­ism.’’

South Can­ter­bury Fed­er­ated Farm­ers dairy spokesman Ryan O’Sul­li­van said it was best that the cull pro­ceeded as soon as pos­si­ble.

‘‘If I was in their shoes, once the de­ci­sion had been made to cull, I’d want the process done as quickly as pos­si­ble.

‘‘It’s a dif­fi­cult time of the year as meat works are deal­ing with a lot of cull cows any­way.’’

PGG Wrightson na­tional dairy live­stock man­ager Paul Ed­wards said the mar­ket should be able to sup­ply suf­fi­cient num­bers to re­stock farms with­out hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on pric­ing. ‘‘It is a big num­ber of an­i­mals, but I am con­fi­dent the mar­ket will sat­isfy re­quire­ments.’’

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