Support for mass cull plan to stop M.bovis
CHB beef and dairy farmers are being encouraged to talk to their local vet about biosecurity measures to try and protect their farms and herds from the spread of Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).
Veterinarians are supporting the government’s plan to eradicate M. bovis through the mass culling of more than 126,000 cows, describing it as the best chance of ridding New Zealand of the infection.
In announcing the cull last week as part of a 10-year, $886 million plan, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was a tough decision to try and eradicate M. bovis in what would be a world-first attempt.
“I empathise fully with those farmers going through the pain of losing their herds,” she said.
The cull of around 126,000 animals, in addition to 26,000 already underway, will take place over one to two years.
Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said as a former sharemilker and farmer he could relate to the “terrible situation facing anyone who has to cull their herd”.
Mycoplasma bovis is a bacterium that causes udder infections (mastitis), abortion, pneumonia and arthritis in cattle. It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk.
NZ Veterinary Association president Dr Peter Blaikie said culling was the best option in regards to animal welfare and urged farmers to educate themselves about the disease and liaise with their local vet.
CHB Vets owner Dr Karen Phillips agreed, saying that Mycoplasma bovis was difficult to identify, hard to test for and hard to treat.
“New Zealand will never again be in a position to eradicate the disease so now is our best chance to do so.
“Other countries that have let the disease become established have advised they would have tried eradication if they had the option,” Dr Phillips said.
There are currently 39 infected properties around the country, but only one in Hawke’s Bay — a farm in Hastings. Dr Phillips said, in time, it was “possible that some CHB herds may be infected”.
“There are a lot of animal movements that have occurred over the last three years. Tracing these movements is difficult and will be carried out as part of the surveillance.” She said it was essential that vets had “real and regular on-farm contact” with herds as they were trained to pick up on symptoms.
“Non-responsive conditions to treatment are the sort of cases we will see with Mycoplasma infection,” she said.
Farmers could employ simple biosecurity measures to protect their herds, and she encouraged them to talk to their vet.
HERD movements have helped the spread of Mycoplasma bovis.