More testing, tighter controls needed in fight

Farming Mycoplasma bovis out of the system is one way of getting rid of the infection, Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy chairman Nathan Currie says.

But it will involve more farm management, ongoing testing and tighter stock control.

Mr Currie’s comments come as the Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) confirmed a cull of more than 22,000 cattle could start as scientific testing and tracking confirmed the disease was not endemic.

MPI also confirmed another Mid Canterbury property was infected with Mycoplasma bovis, taking the number of infected properties in the district to four.

It was a dairy farm with links to previously confirmed infected properties and already under movement restrictions.

Mr Currie said the future with M. bovis, aside from putting it in the too hard basket, included treating it like Tb, with regular testing and culling of infected stock. More strict stock control records were needed, and boundary fences between farms needed to be more defined to prevent cross farm infection.

‘‘There could be a lot of scrutiny expected.’’

He said a third option was to eliminate those infected and start again.

‘‘Ideally we would like to eradicate and move on, but more likely we are going to have to farm it out of our system.

‘‘There is a lot of on-farm testing still to be done, and I really feel for those people affected,’’ he said.

MPI announced the cull of 22,332 cattle last week.

It said it was a ‘‘critical measure to control the spread of the disease’’.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said culling infected cattle would give farmers much-needed certainty over their futures.

‘‘It has taken some time to get to this point . . .Everyone across New Zealand can understand how incredibly difficult it is for these farmers to lose their herds . . .While we still have challenges ahead in managing this outbreak, these families can move forward with their farms and lives,’’ Mr O’Connor said.

The latest MPI report said the cull of the animals on infected farms would have an immense impact on the farmers involved and urged people to look out for each other.

The bulk milk testing was progressing well, with more than 80% of farms completing their first sick-cow mob sample and about 20% of farms completing all rounds of testing.

‘‘If Mycoplasma bovis is not detected, the result from this testing will be reported back by the dairy processor approximately 10 days after the last samples were taken.

‘‘Even though we so far haven’t seen any Mycoplasma bovis transmission across boundary fences, separation of herds is a fundamental biosecurity principle.’’


★ For people affected, directly or indirectly, who would like support or need someone to talk with confidentially, support is offered through the M Bovis Farmer Support Line on 027 444-9380 or email: MBovis2017—

★ Anyone who needs support is also welcome to phone the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787-254 (0800 RURAL HELP) for a confidential chat. 

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