The New Zealand Government has submitted a plan to improve animal health, including the slaughter of more than 150,000 cows, bulls, and calves in an attempt to eradicate the problems caused by infection with Mycoplasma Bovis. The project has been approved with the agreement of the livestock sector, will have a cost equivalent to more than $500 million and will be implemented over the next ten years.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, described as “difficult” the decision to implement this plan, which aims to curb a disease that affects farm animals but which could also be extended to wild animals.
“The decision to eradicate the disease is driven by the government’s desire to protect national livestock from the disease and protect the basis of the economy, the livestock sector,” said Jacinda Ardern.
The authorities plan to implement most of the plan over the next two years, with 68% of the cost being borne by the New Zealand government and 32% by DairyNZ and Beef&Lamb New Zealand.
The measure will affect some 192 of the 20,000 farms in the country
Katie Milne, the president of the Cattlemen’s Federation, said the decision “will cause pain and trauma to the affected families” but that it is better to get rid of the disease than to live with it for years.
New Zealand authorities are investigating how the bacteria entered the country, where it was detected for the first time in the New Zealand’s history in July 2017.
The bacterium known as Mycoplasma Bovis causes pneumonia and arthritis in cattle, as well as udder infection and miscarriages, although it does not affect humans or pose a food safety hazard.
Mycoplasma Bovis is a widespread problem
Mycoplasma Bovis is the most pathogenic bovine mycoplasma species in Europe and the United States and causes serious animal health problems such as bovine pneumonia, arthritis, genital abnormalities, and miscarriages. In cattle, casualties are recorded due to the respiratory diseases triggered by this bacterium which is responsible for a third of all the respiratory infections in cattle.
Now, the New Zealand government is the first that approved a slaughter. Accordingly, about 150,000 cows, bulls, and calves will be killed in a desperate measure to keep under control and ultimately eradicate the spread of Mycoplasma Bovis in the country.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.