Medicine

New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows to wipe out painful disease

New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows to wipe out painful disease

The New Zealand government is taking drastic measures to try and end a bacterial disease that is plaguing the nation's cattle.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she believes it's still possible to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.

"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.

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.

However, Ms Ardern said New Zealand - which relies heavily on livestock farming for its export earnings - would aim to eradicate the disease completely.

In Ashburton, some farmers are anxious that eradicating Mycoplasma bovis will disproportionately hurt their herds through culling.

Officials carrying out the cull "have the legal authority to forcibly enter farms and kill animals even in cases where a farmer might resist, but they said they hope they don't have to use those powers", Bloomberg reports.

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"No one ever wants to see mass culls".

About 26,000 cattle have been killed since the disease was detected and at least a further 128,000 are likely to be killed.

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". That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered. About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.

"Newly appointed science adviser Dr John Roche has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis".

The full cost of phased eradication over 10 years is projected to be $886 million, with $16 million of that being a loss of production and $870 being the cost of the response.

The fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with 50 more staff, a new field headquarters and the appointment of a science adviser, says Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.


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