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Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

New Zealand to cull more than 100,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma disease

New Zealand to cull more than 100,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma disease

In an effort to eradicate the cow disease Mycoplasma bovis, New Zealand will cull more than 100,00 cows from its national herd. 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. We have a real chance of eradication to protect our more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms, but only if we act now.

The bacterium causes illness in cattle, including udder infections, abortion, pneumonia and arthritis. A $16m "loss of production" cost will be borne by affected farmers.

"No one ever wants to see mass culls".

"Over 99 percent of our dairy herds in New Zealand have no signs of this disease, and we want to keep it that way", said Jim van der Poel, DairyNZ chair.

Mycoplasma bovis has been detected on more than three dozen farms since it was first detected in New Zealand previous year, leading to the slaughter of about 26,000 cattle.

The Prime Minister's disappointed at the speed of compensation for Mycoplasma Bovis culled animals.

Since its July discovery, the bacteria was deemed "active" on 37 different properties and 26,000 cows have already been killed, the Guardian reported. The cost of the eradication program is estimated at 886 million New Zealand dollars ($616 million) over ten years.

Katie Milne, president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, said they would try to ensure that farmers received the financial and emotional support they required.

However, many healthy cattle will also be killed in the cull.

"This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having yet a test that clearly identifies the individual animals", he said.

The problem with Mycoplasma bovis is that it's hard to detect and doesn't respond to antibiotics. "But the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease across our national herd". It will only be clear by the end of year if the culling of the cows is working.

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