Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows in record cull

New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows in record cull

New Zealand, the world's biggest dairy exporter, will spend more than NZ$880 million ($610 million) in a bid to eradicate the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls", she said.

"Today's decision to eradicate is driven by the government's desire to protect the national herd from the disease and protect the base of our economy - the farming sector", Ardern said in a statement. The plan is expected to cost $886mil over 10 years.

The government will take care of 68% of this cost, while DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand will handle the other 32%. A further 126,000 animals, at 192 properties, will be added to the cull, at a cost of NZ$886 million (€526 million, $615 million).

Arden herself said she empathizes with the farmers who will have to undergo having all their cows slaughtered, but the government and cattle industry are in agreement that the long-term consequences of letting the disease spread far outweighs any incurred losses with the eradication plan.

Mycoplasma bovis has been detected on more than three dozen farms since it was first detected in New Zealand a year ago, leading to the slaughter of about 26,000 cattle. It has 6.6m dairy cows.

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Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group "Federated Farmers", emphasised the support that will be needed for farmers, however, failed to mention the 150,000 cows that will be slaughtered.

Many healthy cows will also be killed.

The problem with Mycoplasma bovis is that it's hard to detect and doesn't respond to antibiotics. They say numerous cows will be slaughtered at processing plants and used for beef, but some cows will have to be killed and buried on the farms or dumped in approved landfills.

Mycoplasma Bovis is the most pathogenic bovine mycoplasma species in Europe and the United States and causes serious animal health problems such as bovine pneumonia, arthritis, genital abnormalities, and miscarriages. Norway is now the only one.

It is unclear whether she made any mention of the 150,000 cows set to die as part of the eradication attempt.

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