Need for vigilance over cattle disease

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THE discovery of the bacterial disease Mycoplasma bovis in cattle on a Hawke’s Bay farm is of major concern to cattle farmers in Tairawhiti, says Federated Farmers provincial president Charlie Reynolds.

“It will be of particular concern to the region’s stud cattle breeders.”

The disease was found initially in dairy cattle run by the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in Southland and Otago, and several thousand dairy cattle have been slaughtered.

The Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) this week announced that a case had been identified on a property in the Hastings district, and at three locations in Winton, Southland.

There was also a suspect property near Ashburton.

The Hastings case was confirmed after testing of organ tissue from animals at slaughter.

The disease affects all cattle, not just dairy cows. It causes udder infections, abortions, pneumonia and arthritis.

“To hear this disease is now in Hawke’s Bay will come as a bit of shock to many farmers here. Last I heard, MPI had assured everyone they had it under control. They had better come up with some answers.”

MPI has an investigation under way to trace the likely cattle movement that led to the Hastings case.

“The fact it has got into the North Island is a serious breach of biosecurity. It should have been contained down south,” Mr Reynolds said.“Gisborne and East Coast cattle farmers need to be quite concerned and astute about the health of their cattle. They also need to be very careful about where they source cattle from.”

The outbreak was the cattle equivalent of velvet leaf, a weed that has plagued the cropping industry for three years.

“MPI have struggled to get on top of that as well,” Mr Reynolds said. “This will be a major concern for the likes of the district’s stud cattle breeders. Once Mycoplasma bovis gets into your herd you cannot sell your bulls. They have all got to be slaughtered.

“That would have huge implications for the annual bull sales and, therefore, the regional economy.”

Farmers and NAIT duties

Tairawhiti farmers needed to make sure they fulfil their NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) duties.

“Being lazy about it leads to these situations. If MPI is unable to follow cattle properly then the chances of further infections increases, but that does not excuse MPI for the disease’s escape from the South Island.”

Farmers needed to double-check with their suppliers of calves “to check they have been proactive on fortifying their farms from this disease, and that is by putting a hot wire two-to-three-metres off the boundary around their farm if in a suspected area.

“If you are buying, do your homework on where they are coming from. Have the breeders/rearers been testing? Have they checked with their suppliers of bulls, dairy support teams and so on where those animals have come from?”

MPI director of response Geoff Gwyn said MPI must continue with its policy of not naming the affected properties under the Privacy Act.

“We do understand community concern and we strongly encourage farmers under controls or investigation to talk to their neighbours, customers and suppliers.

“The Hastings and Ashburton properties were identified through our tracing programme and the Winton property was identified through the industry milk testing programme. All of the stock movements we have been tracing are before July 21 when the disease was first detected and notified to MPI.”

The Hastings and Winton properties have been put under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act.

“This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown — restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods, and MPI is working closely with them.”

Analysis under way

Mr Gwyn said MPI was still analysing what the latest cases mean for the wider response.

“We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Our investigators are building a picture of stock movements on to and off these farms, so we will not be making hasty decisions on next steps.

“While it’s really disappointing to have these new properties, it is not totally unexpected. We know that this disease is spread through contact between animals and through the movement of stock, as is the case here.”

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor was “deeply disappointed” by the latest cases.

“The fact the disease has been found in the North Island is disappointing to me and, no doubt, will be for farmers too.

“We are still unable to identify the source of the disease and that concerns me.”

THE discovery of the bacterial disease Mycoplasma bovis in cattle on a Hawke’s Bay farm is of major concern to cattle farmers in Tairawhiti, says Federated Farmers provincial president Charlie Reynolds.

“It will be of particular concern to the region’s stud cattle breeders.”

The disease was found initially in dairy cattle run by the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in Southland and Otago, and several thousand dairy cattle have been slaughtered.

The Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) this week announced that a case had been identified on a property in the Hastings district, and at three locations in Winton, Southland.

There was also a suspect property near Ashburton.

The Hastings case was confirmed after testing of organ tissue from animals at slaughter.

The disease affects all cattle, not just dairy cows. It causes udder infections, abortions, pneumonia and arthritis.

“To hear this disease is now in Hawke’s Bay will come as a bit of shock to many farmers here. Last I heard, MPI had assured everyone they had it under control. They had better come up with some answers.”

MPI has an investigation under way to trace the likely cattle movement that led to the Hastings case.

“The fact it has got into the North Island is a serious breach of biosecurity. It should have been contained down south,” Mr Reynolds said.“Gisborne and East Coast cattle farmers need to be quite concerned and astute about the health of their cattle. They also need to be very careful about where they source cattle from.”

The outbreak was the cattle equivalent of velvet leaf, a weed that has plagued the cropping industry for three years.

“MPI have struggled to get on top of that as well,” Mr Reynolds said. “This will be a major concern for the likes of the district’s stud cattle breeders. Once Mycoplasma bovis gets into your herd you cannot sell your bulls. They have all got to be slaughtered.

“That would have huge implications for the annual bull sales and, therefore, the regional economy.”

Farmers and NAIT duties

Tairawhiti farmers needed to make sure they fulfil their NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) duties.

“Being lazy about it leads to these situations. If MPI is unable to follow cattle properly then the chances of further infections increases, but that does not excuse MPI for the disease’s escape from the South Island.”

Farmers needed to double-check with their suppliers of calves “to check they have been proactive on fortifying their farms from this disease, and that is by putting a hot wire two-to-three-metres off the boundary around their farm if in a suspected area.

“If you are buying, do your homework on where they are coming from. Have the breeders/rearers been testing? Have they checked with their suppliers of bulls, dairy support teams and so on where those animals have come from?”

MPI director of response Geoff Gwyn said MPI must continue with its policy of not naming the affected properties under the Privacy Act.

“We do understand community concern and we strongly encourage farmers under controls or investigation to talk to their neighbours, customers and suppliers.

“The Hastings and Ashburton properties were identified through our tracing programme and the Winton property was identified through the industry milk testing programme. All of the stock movements we have been tracing are before July 21 when the disease was first detected and notified to MPI.”

The Hastings and Winton properties have been put under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act.

“This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown — restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods, and MPI is working closely with them.”

Analysis under way

Mr Gwyn said MPI was still analysing what the latest cases mean for the wider response.

“We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Our investigators are building a picture of stock movements on to and off these farms, so we will not be making hasty decisions on next steps.

“While it’s really disappointing to have these new properties, it is not totally unexpected. We know that this disease is spread through contact between animals and through the movement of stock, as is the case here.”

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor was “deeply disappointed” by the latest cases.

“The fact the disease has been found in the North Island is disappointing to me and, no doubt, will be for farmers too.

“We are still unable to identify the source of the disease and that concerns me.”

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Mark Edgeworth, Christchurch - 1 year ago
This issue should have been taken seriously from day one. "It's OK boys, it's way down south, no worries here. Another pinot?".....How come we can still move livestock around the country without a permit? Wake up and smell the cow s*** MPI.

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