New Zealand to cull 126,000 cows to eradicate disease

Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand predicted to cost $1 billion over 10

New Zealand authorities confirmed plans on Monday to slaughter roughly 150,000 cows in attempt to eliminate a strain of disease-causing bacteria which threatens the nation's economy.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the government will eradicate the disease, and it's anticipated 126,000 cows will need to be culled in addition to those being culled at the moment.

"No one ever wants to see mass culls". They say all the infections found so far can be traced back to a single farm, and that the bacteria likely arrived in New Zealand 18 months before they were first identified. About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.

These are indeed large figures but they should be placed against the $8 billion economic contribution of the dairy industry, $2 billion from the beef industry, the country's reputation as a food producer and, perhaps most importantly, animal and farmer welfare.

Since it was first discovered, 26,000 cows have been culled, and the disease is classified as "active" on 37 properties.

Mycoplasma bovis can cause such ailments as mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis.

The plan is set to cost $886 million, and will take place over the next ten years.

Although all farming lobby groups have supported the decision, many farmers are reported to be angry about the cost and loss of their herds.

Federated Farmers National President Katie Milne said the process represents a "rough time" for the farmers, adding that they "have to support them as neighbours, community members, farmers, friends".

"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.

An investigation launched by the country's Ministry of Primary Industries to determine how the bacteria wound up in the country is still ongoing. It will only be clear by the end of year if the culling of the cows is working.

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