New Zealand slaughtering more than 100000 cows to eradicate bovine disease

Farmers listen intently to an MPI presentation

Radio New Zealand reported that after the cows are killed, infected farms will be disinfected and then ordered to lie fallow for 60 days before new livestock can be allowed to return to the grounds. Many cows will be be used for beef, however many will end up dumped into landfills.

Mycoplasma bovis can lead to conditions such as udder infection, pneumonia and arthritis in affected cattle, but does not pose a food safety risk or any risk to humans.

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.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls". About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle. The country is the world's largest exporter of milk and dairy products.

Government and farming sector leaders have agreed to cull 126,000 cows and spend more than NZ$800m ($560m) over 10 years in an attempt to save the national dairy herd and protect the long-term productivity of the farming sector, which is New Zealand's second biggest export earner.

Mycoplasma bovis has been detected on more than three dozen farms since it was first detected in New Zealand a year ago, leading to the slaughter of about 26,000 cattle.

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

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said it was believed the outbreak came from one source and that expert advice indicated it was possible to contain and eradicate it.

Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, said it was important to try to get rid of Mycoplasma bovis while there was still a chance.

Many healthy cows will also be killed. "This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having a test that clearly identifies the individual animals yet".

Farming is vital to the economy in New Zealand, whose isolation has helped protect it from some diseases which affect herds elsewhere.

An investigation launched by the country's Ministry of Primary Industries to determine how the bacteria wound up in the country is still ongoing.

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