New Zealand to cull 126,000 cows to eradicate disease

Farmers listen intently to an MPI presentation

A new report pointed out that New Zealand would walk up a step to eradicate the disease Mycoplasma Bovis by slaughtering near about hundred thousand cows. 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 bacteria is not harmful to humans and does not pose a threat to food safety.

The decision was a "tough call" but had to be made because the alternative was the spread of the disease across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Mycoplasma Bovis has been found on about 40 farms so far but the government believes 192 properties will eventually be involved in the cull. It has 6.6m dairy cows.

More than 150,000 cows will be slaughtered over the next two years at a cost of NZ$880m (£459m), as the world's biggest dairy exporter attempts to deal with an outbreak of Mycoplasma disease.

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

She said the cull, the majority of which would take place over the next two years, would aim to eradicate the disease completely.

No country has managed to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis so far. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.

Federated Farmers National President Katie Milne said the process represents a "rough time" for the farmers, adding that they "have to support them as neighbours, community members, farmers, friends".

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor admitted that most of the cows to be culled are healthy. "This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having a test that clearly identifies the individual animals yet".

The problem with Mycoplasma bovis is that it's hard to detect and doesn't respond to antibiotics. It will only be clear by the end of year if the culling of the cows is working.

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