Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

New Zealand Plans To Kill 150,000 Cows To Protect Economy

New Zealand Plans To Kill 150,000 Cows To Protect Economy

Found in Europe and the US, the bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases.

The disease, which causes udder infections, pneumonia and arthritis in cows but has no effect on milk and meat for human consumption, was first discovered on a farm on the South Island last July.

Authorities are still trying to determine if the strain arrived through imported live cattle, frozen semen, embryos, veterinary medicines and biological products, feed, used farm equipment, or other imported live animals.

The decision announced today will see the "phased eradication" of the disease with most of the work undertaken over the next one to two years, but the work will likely continue for 10 years.

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Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, insisted that authorities would try to make sure affected farmers had all the support they needed, including adequate compensation.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really ugly", said Katie Milne, the organisation's president. They support farmers with information and advice on the practical aspects of the controls. The dairy herd of the country reportedly has around 6.6 million cows.

Mycoplasma bovis has so far been found on 38 farms throughout New Zealand, officials say, a number they expect to rise to at least 142 farms based on computer modeling. The cows will be killed in phases and the first phase will kill around 26,000 cows, process for which is already underway.

The full cost of eradication over 10 years is projected to be $886 million. The government plans to pick up about two-thirds of the tab while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she did not want to end up in a situation where she looked back and said "I could have tried harder".

The fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with 50 more staff, a new field headquarters and the appointment of a science adviser, says Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

Already present in the U.S. and Europe, it has never been successfully eradicated before.

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