New Zealand Orders Mass Cattle Cull To Eradicate Disease

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 is announcing its decision about whether to eradicate or contain the cattle disease, Mycoplasma bovis.

About 126,000 cows are expected to be culled, mainly over the next two years, as government and industry work to depopulate all infected farms, the government said in a statement. Some of the slaughtered cattle may be used for beef, but others will be buried on farms or in landfill. 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", Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, told The Guardian.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish they're going to go through is really ugly", she said of the affected farmers.

The government said it would bear around two-thirds of the cost, while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest. New Zealand exports milk in a large scale.

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

Around 24,000 cows have already been killed in recent months. The cost of killing the cows is estimated at 886 million New Zealand dollars. MPI says a substantial part of a farmer's claim for culled cows should now take 4-10 days, with a fully verified claim taking 2-3 weeks.

Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group "Federated Farmers", emphasised the support that will be needed for farmers, however, failed to mention the 150,000 cows that will be slaughtered.

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

The problem with Mycoplasma bovis is that it's hard to detect and doesn't respond to antibiotics.

"If we don't take this one chance, the disease will spread and the risk of it eventually affecting many of our herds is high", Poel wrote in a statement for DairyNZ.

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

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