NZ to kill 150000 cows to end disease

A restricted place notice on the roadside of a Mycoplasma bovis infected farm

A restricted place notice on the roadside of a Mycoplasma bovis infected farm

The bacterium causes illness in cattle, including udder infections, abortion, pneumonia and arthritis. The bacteria is not a threat to humans, but can cause production delays on farms.

Announcing the largest cull in the nation's history yesterday, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said that while she sympathised with farmers, the government had "one shot" at eliminating the disease. Since it was first detected, the disease has spread to 37 farms, and computer modeling suggests it will eventually reach some 142 farms.

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. Until July New Zealand was one of only two major OECD dairying countries that were free of the disease.

The government is announcing its decision about whether to eradicate or contain the cattle disease, Mycoplasma bovis.

Many healthy cows will also be killed.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really ugly", said Katie Milne, the organisation's president. "We will work with MPI and industry groups to make sure the system to support farmers is robust and delivers well into the future", Katie says.

The government will take care of 68% of this cost, while DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand will handle the other 32%. They support farmers with information and advice on the practical aspects of the controls. 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). About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.

The problem with Mycoplasma bovis is that it's hard to detect and doesn't respond to antibiotics.

If all goes as hoped with the slaughter, New Zealand would be the first country to have registered an infection and successfully remove Mycoplasma bovis from its herds.

It is unclear whether she made any mention of the 150,000 cows set to die as part of the eradication attempt.

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