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

Farmers around the country will learn this afternoon whether officials will keep trying to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis outbreak or move to managing its spread. Many cows will be be used for beef, however many will end up dumped into landfills.

The bacteria, Mycoplasma bovis, can cause cows to develop ailments such as mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis. Authorities insist the decision is to stop future production losses and is unrelated to food safety.

Announcing the largest cull in the nation's history yesterday, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said that while she sympathised with farmers, the government had "one shot" at eliminating the disease.

"No one ever wants to see mass culls". It has been found on about 40 farms so far, but 192 farms are likely to be involved in the culling. "We have a real chance of eradication to protect our more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms, but only if we act now".

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

The eradication of Mycoplasma bovis will not be an easy one, but is possible because it's not widespread and there's only one strain of the disease out there.

Since the identification of the disease, near about twenty-six cows have already been slaughtered.

The plan is set to cost $886 million, and will take place over the next ten years.

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.

Many healthy cows will also be killed.

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

"Today's decision to eradicate the disease is driven by the government's desire to protect the national herd from the disease and protect the base of our economy - the farming sector", she said.

  • Santos West