New Zealand will slaughter 150,000 cows to end bacterial disease

The disease has now been traced to the Southland farm of Alfons Zeestraten at least back to December 2015. MPI says

"There has been little global investment in science around this disease so the group will look into testing developments to detect Mycoplasma bovis in individual cows, grow understanding of the disease and identify opportunities to support the New Zealand eradication operation".

The disease was discovered in July previous year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected.

The country is trying to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that causes mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis in cows. They are not considered a threat to food safety, but do cause production losses on farms.

A Canterbury farmer says he wants someone from the Government to come out and talk to him as he prepares to lose another 900 cows in the Mycoplasma bovis cull.

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"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really disgusting", said Katie Milne, the organisation's president. A further 126,000 animals, at 192 properties, will be added to the cull, at a cost of NZ$886 million (€526 million, $615 million). About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.

New Zealand is the world's largest exporter of dairy products, and produces 3% of the world's milk.

New Zealand has already culled 26,000 cattle in the 10 months since the disease was discovered. Mycoplasma bovis was first observed in the cows of South Island only but gradually it has spread up to the North Island also in the current year.

Katie Milne, president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, said they would try to ensure that farmers received the financial and emotional support they required.

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

"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.

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

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.

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

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