M. bovis update (17 December 2020)
Protect your farm and animals
You can protect your farm and animals by undertaking some simple biosecurity practices on farm.
Complete the Biosecurity WOF, developed with farmers and vets, work through this guide and develop on on-farm biosecurity plan.
The biggest risk for spread of M. bovis is through direct animal contact, focus on preventing contact with cattle from other herds. If purchasing new stock, read the pre-purchase checklist.
Complete NAIT records
Always complete your NAIT records and make sure if you have had movement over the last month they are correctly recorded. Knowing where your cows have been is crucial to understanding and preventing the spread of disease.
If moving animals for grazing - check the grazing property’s biosecurity health status. All M. bovis infected properties are under Restricted Place Notices under the Biosecurity Act. Ensure that the grazing property has good biosecurity measures in place, such as preventing your stock from having nose to nose contact with stock on the farm or neighbouring properties.
Check your boundary fences are secure
Put in double fencing at least two metres apart to stop nose to nose contact between you and your neighbour’s stock. Permanent is best but in the short term it can be simply putting a reel up if your neighbour’s stock are going to be in the adjacent paddock.
If bringing in supplementary feed - there is no risk of M. bovis infection from bringing in hay or baleage from uninfected farms. If the feed is coming from a farm under a Notice of Direction or a Restricted Place Notice, confirm that it meets any conditions on the Notice.
Contractors and machinery on farm
The risk of spreading M. bovis bacteria between farms on machinery is low. However, it is good biosecurity practice to have a “clean on, clean off” policy for both machinery and people, which will protect your farm business from weeds, pests, and diseases. You should expect machinery to arrive clean to your property, and expect the machinery to be cleaned before it leaves your property for the next job. Disinfection should be used after cleaning on equipment and boots/gear that have been in contact with stock and/or effluent. Check out the cleaning and disinfection poster for more information.
What is Mycoplasma bovis?
- is a bacterial disease
- is commonly found in cattle all over the world, including in Australia
- it does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk. There is no concern about eating meat, milk and milk products
- it does lead to serious conditions in cattle and therefore constitutes an animal welfare and productivity issue
- it spreads from animal to animal through close contact. Between farms it spreads through the movement of animals that are infected but may not be showing symptoms. It is also potentially spread on contaminated equipment and the feeding of untreated milk to calves. It is not windborne.
- while some of the conditions can be treated, affected cattle will always be carriers of the disease
- the disease does not affect sheep or cause illness in goats although it is thought goats could carry and transmit it.
How does it affect cows?
- untreatable mastitis in dairy and beef cows
- severe pneumonia in up to 30% of infected calves, starting as a hacking cough
- ear infections in calves, the first sign typically being one droopy ear, progressing to ear discharges and in some cases a head tilt
- swollen joints and lameness (severe arthritis/synovitis) in all ages of cattle
- know the signs to look out for, download the 'Signs to look out for' poster. If stock show unusual levels of mastitis, abortions or present with arthritis or pneumonia, contact your vet.
Bulk milk testing
All dairy farms supplying milk will have a bulk sample tested for M. bovis every month. This is part of the ongoing surveillance programme as we work to eradicate M. bovis from New Zealand.
Working to eradicate M. bovis
We believe that we have a chance to get rid of M. bovis for good by undertaking phased eradication.
Phased eradication will mean continuing to trace all potentially affected cattle, and testing and culling those herds with infected animals in them. This will continue until regular surveillance finds no further evidence of the disease. By phased, we mean that it will take place over a number of years. We expect to do most of the eradication work in 1-2 years. It will be done in cooperation with affected farmers to allow flexibility around timing of culling to offset production losses.
Read more about the decision to eradicate and what it means for you.
M. bovis compensation
If you are a farmer directly affected by M. bovis, we have a team that can help you with compensation.
The DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ Compensation Assistance Team can help you with:
- understanding whether you are eligible for compensation
- clarify what losses you can claim for
- working through the compensation claim forms with you
- supporting you through the compensation claim process
This is a free service that is supported by MPI, run independently by DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.
Call us on 0800 322 281 and we will put you in touch with a compensation assistant to help step you through the process and ensure you have the answers you need. Alternatively you can email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
To help you with your compensation claim check out the M. bovis Compensation Guide.
- Looking to buy more cattle? Read the M. bovis pre-purchase checklist
- Mycoplasma bovis advice on using imported or local semen
- Minimising the risks from Mycoplasma bovis at cattle shows and events
- Rural Support Trust can help you
If you are a farmer affected by the M. bovis response, you can find out more about the response on the M. bovis affected farmers website.