Published: Thu, May 31, 2018
Sci-tech | By Lila Blake

New Zealand to kill 150000 cows to end bacterial disease

New Zealand to kill 150000 cows to end bacterial disease

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.

Local farmers Leo and Maite Bensegues told the New Zealand Herald that after they gave up their herd of 950 cows along with 200 calves, they were compensated with some $2 million to buy new livestock.

Forty-four percent say it's fair, 44.5 percent say it's not fair and 12 percent don't know. 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.

"I empathise fully with those farmers going through the pain of losing their herds", Jacinda Ardern said today.

"[There are] 450,000 cows in Ashburton, mid-Canterbury".


New Zealand, which relies heavily on livestock farming for its export earnings, aims to eradicate the painful Mycoplasma bovis disease completely.

The nation would be spending near about NZ$800m (five hundred sixty million dollars) over about ten years in order to protect the dairy herd of New Zealand and secure the future dairy production of the nation's farming industry, which yields the nation the second largest profit.

"We all agree that while there remains a chance to get rid of this disease, we should take it". Many cows will be be used for beef, however many will end up dumped into landfills.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls", Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, told The Guardian. In particular farmers need to be meticulous with animal movement records and the way they use NAIT.

She said eradication will require significant resources from Government and the industry. It has been found on about 40 farms so far, but 192 farms are likely to be involved in the culling.


The decision to cull 126,000 cows from the national herd was not an easy one to make. Infected properties in the North Island are so far rarer than in South Island. It is a biosecurity breach so they have the powers.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman and Waikato farmer Chris Lewis was slightly stunned by the announcement when approached for comment, despite knowing what it would be as a consulted industry leader.

He questioned whether healthy cattle showing up as carrying the bacteria organism were simply developing immunity to the disease, which some in the sector believe has been in New Zealand for years but undiagnosed before last July's outbreak at Waimate.

Lewis, who has handled hundreds of calls from anxious dairy farmers in recent months, said the decision meant a "big challenge ahead for us all". "But a few will be".


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