Your help can keep bovine TB out

Keeping Gisborne TB-free.

Keeping Gisborne TB-free.

Gisborne is TB-free, but bovine tuberculosis still presents a threat to our farmed cattle and deer. The region’s TB committee chair, Gisborne Hereford breeder Sam Hain (pictured), said following NAIT requirements and defending against bovine TB being brought into Gisborne were non-negotiables in protecting livestock.
Picture supplied

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been hogging the headlines for about a year now, but New Zealand farmers cannot forget about the closely related disease, bovine tuberculosis (TB). Gisborne is TB free in cattle, deer herds and in wildlife.

But this could easily change, with big implications.

While the Gisborne region, like much of the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Northland, are considered TB-free, the disease could still be brought into the region.

The movement of livestock could transport undiagnosed infected cattle into the area, as could illegal wild animal releases, infected offal or carcasses.

The best protection is ensuring that you check Animal Status Declarations (ASD) that accompany animals on the move, and tag, register and record movements with National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT).

Removing wildlife infection is a key risk for the TB eradication programme – until we achieve TB freedom in possums and stop the disease cycling, there will always be a risk of resurgence in wildlife and, in turn, infection in our cattle and deer herds.

Bovine TB is capable of infecting many other species, including humans.

TB is passed from wildlife to domestic cattle and deer by close interaction with TB-infected possums. Since the link was proven in 1971, a focus on knocking down possum populations in large geographic areas has seen the disease eradicated from possums across large areas of risk.

Since 2011, more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand has been declared free of TB-infected possums, with about 7.9m hectares of Vector Risk Area remaining to be declared TB-free in possums by 2040.

TB in possums and wildlife is largely confined to several large areas of New Zealand — the central North Island high country, Wellington-Wairarapa, the West Coast of the South Island, some areas of Tasman, Marlborough, northern and southern areas of the Canterbury region, Otago and Southland.

The eradication of bovine TB has been the focus of the national TBfree programme since the National Pest Management strategy was introduced in 1998.

An indicator of progress has been the decrease in infected cattle and deer herds from 1700 in 1994 to fewer than 50 today.

The multi-pronged programme uses a combination of TB testing, possum control and stock movement controls to restrict and contain the spread of disease.

In areas of high risk – where there is a higher chance of TB-infected possums interacting with cattle and deer herds – movement control restrictions are in place. These require TB testing of stock 90 days or older moving to another farm.

There is currently no pest control being done in the Gisborne region for TB purposes, as there is no TB wildlife risk within the region. Where the Gisborne District Council (GDC) is undertaking possum control, the biosecurity officers are doing a great job.

But, as a community, we need to make sure we don’t bring the disease in through wild animal release or dumping of infected pigs or deer from TB-infected areas.

Hunters, many of whom are farmers, should appreciate the quality of hunting throughout the region and recognise that if TB was ever detected in wildlife, pest control operations may have to start.

Great biodiversity benefits, for flora and fauna, come with possum control in areas of native bush, so landowners are encouraged to undertake possum control on their property.

Some people get extra value from possum control, such as the reward of selling the fur.

Until the wildlife risk is dealt to on a national scale, TB remains a huge risk for the industry.

Our region has been clear for a long time, but we cannot be complacent — we still need to think about TB risk when purchasing or grazing any stock on our properties. As a commercial Hereford breeder, I am paying close attention to the Animal Status Declarations (ASD), and considering simple biosecurity practice to keep my farm safe.

The Gisborne region is fortunate enough to have a strong TBfree committee that represents a wide range of stakeholders in the region.

These include large drystock farms, dairy farms, stud stock agents, pig hunters and the district council.

  • If anyone is interested in joining the TB committee, please get in touch or call TBfree programme manager OSPRI on 0800 482 463.
  • <

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been hogging the headlines for about a year now, but New Zealand farmers cannot forget about the closely related disease, bovine tuberculosis (TB). Gisborne is TB free in cattle, deer herds and in wildlife.

But this could easily change, with big implications.

While the Gisborne region, like much of the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Northland, are considered TB-free, the disease could still be brought into the region.

The movement of livestock could transport undiagnosed infected cattle into the area, as could illegal wild animal releases, infected offal or carcasses.

The best protection is ensuring that you check Animal Status Declarations (ASD) that accompany animals on the move, and tag, register and record movements with National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT).

Removing wildlife infection is a key risk for the TB eradication programme – until we achieve TB freedom in possums and stop the disease cycling, there will always be a risk of resurgence in wildlife and, in turn, infection in our cattle and deer herds.

Bovine TB is capable of infecting many other species, including humans.

TB is passed from wildlife to domestic cattle and deer by close interaction with TB-infected possums. Since the link was proven in 1971, a focus on knocking down possum populations in large geographic areas has seen the disease eradicated from possums across large areas of risk.

Since 2011, more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand has been declared free of TB-infected possums, with about 7.9m hectares of Vector Risk Area remaining to be declared TB-free in possums by 2040.

TB in possums and wildlife is largely confined to several large areas of New Zealand — the central North Island high country, Wellington-Wairarapa, the West Coast of the South Island, some areas of Tasman, Marlborough, northern and southern areas of the Canterbury region, Otago and Southland.

The eradication of bovine TB has been the focus of the national TBfree programme since the National Pest Management strategy was introduced in 1998.

An indicator of progress has been the decrease in infected cattle and deer herds from 1700 in 1994 to fewer than 50 today.

The multi-pronged programme uses a combination of TB testing, possum control and stock movement controls to restrict and contain the spread of disease.

In areas of high risk – where there is a higher chance of TB-infected possums interacting with cattle and deer herds – movement control restrictions are in place. These require TB testing of stock 90 days or older moving to another farm.

There is currently no pest control being done in the Gisborne region for TB purposes, as there is no TB wildlife risk within the region. Where the Gisborne District Council (GDC) is undertaking possum control, the biosecurity officers are doing a great job.

But, as a community, we need to make sure we don’t bring the disease in through wild animal release or dumping of infected pigs or deer from TB-infected areas.

Hunters, many of whom are farmers, should appreciate the quality of hunting throughout the region and recognise that if TB was ever detected in wildlife, pest control operations may have to start.

Great biodiversity benefits, for flora and fauna, come with possum control in areas of native bush, so landowners are encouraged to undertake possum control on their property.

Some people get extra value from possum control, such as the reward of selling the fur.

Until the wildlife risk is dealt to on a national scale, TB remains a huge risk for the industry.

Our region has been clear for a long time, but we cannot be complacent — we still need to think about TB risk when purchasing or grazing any stock on our properties. As a commercial Hereford breeder, I am paying close attention to the Animal Status Declarations (ASD), and considering simple biosecurity practice to keep my farm safe.

The Gisborne region is fortunate enough to have a strong TBfree committee that represents a wide range of stakeholders in the region.

These include large drystock farms, dairy farms, stud stock agents, pig hunters and the district council.

  • If anyone is interested in joining the TB committee, please get in touch or call TBfree programme manager OSPRI on 0800 482 463.
  • <
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Mary, West Coast, S Island - 4 months ago
Sam Hain's comments around stock movement, carefully documented and well managed being the best protection to prevent Tb becoming an issue in your area, are very appropriate and will help with limiting the spread of micoplasma bovis also.
Micoplasma bovis is being tested for with a PCR test (identifies pieces of DNA from the disease). This will be very helpful and far more accurate than Tb testing which uses a vaccine produced from live Tb from the 1860s and antibody tests. This is why so many animals are killed wastefully every year in NZ in the hope of removing Tb.
It is laudable that the Gisborne area has remained Tb free.
Sam's possum knowledge is not quite right in that possums only catch Tb from infectious cattle and deer. Pigs being an end host are unable to spread the disease but are liberated in many NZ areas by Tbfree, later killed and the lymphs in the head examined to see if the pigs have been eating contaminated carcasses.
Until someone is thoughtless enough to introduce Tb into your area you may safely assume that possums remain a great asset, fur, skins and even meat with a bit of thought.
They can not infect your farm animals unless they have been previously infected. Please make sure that Tbfree does not release infected possums as it has in other areas of New Zealand i.e. Landcare study to infect possums with Tb and release to see how fast it (Tb) spreads.
I have studied Tb in farm animals since the 1980s and keep informed by accessing overseas studies mainly and any new (not often) work done in NZ and I have been dairy farming since 1970.
I have family living in the Gisborne area and have a strong interest in what happens.

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