New Zealand Plans To Kill 150,000 Cows

One of the big challenges with Mycoplasma bovis is the ability to test for it. Often the disease can hide in the animal

One of the big challenges with Mycoplasma bovis is the ability to test for it. Often the disease can hide in the animal

The Government has announced that it will attempt to eradicate the cattle disease mycoplasma bovis. After failing to detect the presence of the disease for two years before it was discovered last year on a South Canterbury farm, it admits its original handling of the issue was not satisfactory.

Found in Europe and the US, the bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases. Though the bacteria poses no threats to food safety, it does cause production losses, as infected cows tend to develop mastitis, severe pneumonia, arthritis and respiratory issues.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls", she said. 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).

Eradication has meant the culling of thousands of cows, especially in the dairy industry.

New Zealand is the world's largest exporter of dairy, producing 3% of all the world's milk.

About 24,000 cows have already been killed in recent months and at least 128,000 more will have to be culled, most over the next year or two.

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The Mycoplasma bovis was reported in New Zealand for the first time in July, 2017.

Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, insisted that authorities would try to make sure affected farmers had all the support they needed, including adequate compensation.

Around 150,000 cows will have to be culled, and Walling thinks it is possible that they could eradicate the disease.

"Standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers", she said. "This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having a test that clearly identifies the individual animals yet".

The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was the "rainy day" the government was planning for, Ardern said.

Officials say they should know by the end of the year whether the eradication plan is working.

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