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M.bovis: National survey to sample beef cattle

The Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme will shortly begin sampling beef cattle throughout the country as part of a national beef survey to gauge the extent of the M.bovis disease in the New Zealand beef herd.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand continue to work alongside DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) as part of the eradication programme.

“As at January 15 there were 118 beef properties around the country that have tested positive for M. bovis,” a B+LNZ spokesman said.

“Almost all beef confirmed cases have involved movements or contact with dairy cattle, rather than traditional beef breeds, beef breeding herds or stud animals. “While we are confident that M. bovis is not widespread in beef breeding or stud herds in New Zealand, it is important that the programme carries out a beef survey to make sure that this is indeed the case,” he said.

“This will also help provide confidence in the future that we are free from the disease.”

He said the survey being conducted was the next logical phase in the Programme and was highlighted in the latest report from the independent Technical Advisory Group in October 2019. “Testing of herds from approximately 2500 farms which have had no connection to the M.bovis outbreak will start this month.

“Testing of these herds, which have no known risk of infection, is necessary to determine that the disease is not present outside of the high risk farms.” To minimise disruption to farming operations, samples will be taken from beef cattle at the same time as they would be screened for TB. “This is the most efficient and cost effective way of gathering the information as farmers won't be required to muster animals for separate testing. “Those farmers with cattle being tested for M. bovis as part of their TB testing will be told in advance of their TB testing taking place. When cattle are presented for testing, between 50 and 220 animals will be sampled.”

He said testing will be carried out at AsureQuality laboratories and farmers should expect to be contacted within three weeks if results indicate that there is possible infection and more on-farm testing is required to determine the farm's status. “Negative results, which we expect for almost all farms tested, will also be supplied to farmers initially by the programme's liaison team, with a view to providing results through NAIT in the future.

“We also want to take this opportunity to remind farmers there is still a risk of bringing infection on to your farms, and all farmers need to be taking the right steps to protect their herds,” The B+LNZ spokesman said.

“We thank farmers for their co-operation during the survey. We know that this disease and the eradication process has a major impact on the lives of farmers, their families and communities,” he said. “We are committed to doing everything we can to reduce this impact by working with our partners, including the Rural Support Trust, to support farmers every step of the way.”