Stop culling cows with 'bovis'

Driving round the countryside lately I've seen a lot of cattle on crop already.

A lot seem to be milking cows grazing fodder beet while still being in milk.

But as I write this column, the ''S'' word has been mentioned in the upcoming forecast. At least we seem to get fair warning nowadays.

Our cows have been spending the nights inside for about a month now and by the time you read this, they will be in fulltime.

I also spent a day last week trucking our R2s home from the heifer block and once the weather packs up, they will go in their barn as well.

The R1 heifers will also go into their winter accommodation soon too, but they, along with the R2s, are just nipping off a few paddocks that will be a bit long to leave over winter.

I must say that it's been a pretty good autumn for growing grass in the South.

With the onset of winter, cows are being sent to winter grazing, which brings me to something I didn't really want to write about, Mycoplasma bovis.

First discovered in the South Canterbury area almost a year ago, most people down south didn't give much thought to it, until it was discovered in Southland in December.

Slowly, but surely, a handful of confirmed infected herds popped up throughout the South Island, so the Government finally decided to cull infected herds, which at the time seemed a good call.

Just before writing this column, there has been a sudden explosion of confirmed herds in just a few days and then the announcement of the disease in the heart of Waikato dairy country.

The number to be culled jumped from about 28,000 to almost 60,000 overnight.

I don't see culling as the way forward any more.

In my opinion, we will have to move to a testing system, as we do for Tb and work on a similar ''clear test'' system.

Other countries live and farm with the disease and New Zealand will just have to do the same.

When you see a grown man on the National news almost in tears, it really hammers home the toll this is taking on affected farmers.

All the Government (and the opposition too, in fairness) is doing, is playing the blame game. Quite frankly, that is the ''shameful'' thing here.

Running down the former government, saying you inherited an underfunded, poorly run system is poor form.

This is not the time for petty squabbling. Now is the time for action - you can have an inquiry about who is to blame once the problem is under control.

Blaming Nait for the disease is a cop-out. Yes, it will have contributed to tracing issues, but if people aren't putting tags in cattle in the first place, then Nait isn't worth the paper it was dreamed up on.

Don't get me started on the ''black market calves'' comment from our wannabe agricultural minister either.

All he's done is talk around in circles and passed the hard questions to Geoff Gwyn.

Maybe when the self-proclaimed saviour of the regions, Winston Peters, gets his turn at the top job, he'll fix it all ... Yeah right - sounds like a Tui ad doesn't it?

It's not all bad news in the industry. The dairy auction was up last week, the dairy industry awards were hosted in Invercargill recently and the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards was won by dairy farmers. It's great to see the next generation kicking goals.

By Southern Rural Life columnist and dairy farmer Bruce Eade


Do you know if imported bull semen can contribute to this condition?


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