Keith Woodford explains why M. bovis eradication is no longer realistic and how industry now needs to take control from Government

Keith Woodford explains why M. bovis eradication is no longer realistic and how industry now needs to take control from Government
A swollen joint caused by Mycoplasma bovis.

By Keith Woodford*

Events of recent days demonstrate that eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is no longer a realistic option. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is scrambling to get its messaging together. New strategies are now needed.

As I write this on 13 May, the MPI website still refers in its text material to 38 infected properties. But the latest version of the infection map from MPI tells a very different story.

It is apparent from comments by BioSecurity NZ Chief Roger Smith to a Parliamentary Committee on 10 May, that the sudden growth in infected and suspected infected properties has come as a big surprise. That may well be so to the Wellington officials, but it will be much less of a surprise to those who have been working closer to the cows.

Among the vets and rural professionals close to the action that I talk to, we always saw this situation as a strong possibility.  I said in my first Mycoplasma article back in August 2017 that eradication was going to be challenging and I repeated that increasingly strongly in the four subsequent articles that I wrote.

The key reason many of the professionals have seen things differently than MPI is that we were never convinced that the identified outbreak on the Van Leeuwen farms was where the organism first took root. And as the number of infected farms increased, our doubts increased. There were too may non sequitors for that to be the case.

Over time, it seemed increasingly apparent that the reason MPI was finding infection on particular properties was because those properties were being investigated (for various reasons) in much more detail than other properties. It became apparent that the bulk milk tests were very weak and often non-effective, and that one had to search much deeper. And when one did scratch below the surface, then the Mycoplasma organism, if not the disease itself, would increasingly be found.

For several months, my own view has been that the disease was in Southland from at least 2014 and possibly before that. But whether even that is ‘ground zero’ is a moot point. There is considerable discussion that it might have been around for even longer. And in terms of how it got here originally, there are alternative hypotheses as to the most likely pathway, but none of us actually knows.

MPI’s big mistake has been to first downplay the likelihood of it being here prior to 2017, which led to overemphasis on the Van Leeuwen farms, and then more recently to only focus back to the start of 2016. Essentially, they were saying ‘trust us’, we are the experts.

What we now have to do is cast aside, at least for the short term, the questions of who has ‘stuffed up’. But given the track record, we must retain doubts as to MPI’s ability to now find the path ahead. They are clearly not as expert as they wanted us to believe. And I do note in passing that amongst their nine-member senior management team, none lists a science education within their MPI website CV.

To find the path ahead, we need to look at how the disease is managed overseas. From what I can see, overseas governments get right out of it and leave the industry to find its own way.  There is a lot of sense to that.

DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb, and Federated Farmers are the three organisations that now need to step up and collectively work together on this.

For individual farmers, the key messages are already known but do need to be further communicated. First, whenever new animals come onto a farm, there is an unavoidable risk. That means rethinking farming systems.

Second, feeding ‘hospital milk’ to calves is a guaranteed way to spread any disease that is present. In addition, all cows, but colostrum cows in particular, should be kept well away from hospital cows. Once a cow is identified as having the disease, then strict isolation is necessary until she can be removed from the farm.

There is more to learn about possible manifestations of the disease under New Zealand conditions. Overseas experience indicates some between-country differences.

Unexplained arthritis in cows and calves, ear infections particularly in calves, and four-quarter mastitis in cows including in the weeks prior to calving, are all clear warning signs. Pneumonia in calves is another sign, but pneumonia has other potential causes.

What the industry needs collectively is explicit protocols as to information rules for animal purchases. All purchases need to come with a signed declaration as to the known status of the selling farm.  This status has to be explicit as to whether the farm is known to be infected or is a farm that has been identified for tracing purposes. Prior incoming animal movements over at least the three preceding years need to be stated. This information will not eliminate risk, because vendor farmers may have the disease without knowing it, but it will reduce the risk and allow purchasers to make considered decisions.

All livestock firms need to get on board urgently with these protocols.

The big message that the industry now needs to give to the Government is that Government must now step back. Unlike if there were a foot and mouth outbreak, which would have huge national ramifications, Mycoplasma is something that industry itself can best manage.

Perhaps the trickiest part for Government is precisely how to now step back. Should the compulsory slaughter stop immediately? Should farmers who are part way through an eradication be given the option to either continue with the slaughtering or retain those animals that remain?

These short-term issues of extrication are indeed important, but the fundamental issue is the overall need for Government to step back.

*Keith Woodford was Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University for 15 years through to 2015. He is now Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems Ltd.   His articles are archived at You can contact him directly here.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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I'm confused - as I'd have thought this industry organisation were the ones in charge in the first instance;

Company structure
OSPRI is a not-for-profit limited company comprising a group of companies inclusive of TBfree NZ Ltd and NAIT Ltd.
TBfree NZ Ltd is the statutory management agency for the National Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Plan, pursuant to the Biosecurity Act 1993 and the Biosecurity (National Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Plan) Order 1998.
NAIT Ltd is the designated NAIT organisation pursuant to the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act 2012.

Has the government intervened because OSPRI was not up to it?

Mycoplasma has never been a responsibiilty of OSPRI but perhaps there is a discussion to be had as to whether it might have a role in the future.
OSPRI is more suited to long term management than crisis management. However, in the case of Mycoplasma it is doubtful whether eradication is ever going to be feasible. Probably better to manage it in the same way as Johne's is currently managed (relies on individual farmer action), although that is not to say that the current management of Johne's is optimal for that particular disease.
Keith W

Thing is, OSPRI are in charge of NAIT.

NAIT was introduced specifically to manage this kind of incursion.

NAIT has failed miserably from what I've read. It [the product] was thought deficient and users didn't use it as intended.

Surely they (OSPRI, i.e., the industry) understood the problems and the issues their users had... and surely they KNEW that by and large the industry was not keeping the records needed - and that if anything like this happened the outcome would be exactly what they've got now - inability to track and trace.

It just seems to me that the industry hasn't regulated itself. Was cutting corners and bad practice seen as acceptable?

NAIT was never introduced to manage an incursion, it was introduced to track via data records animal movements to help inform who has bought/sold/owns farm animals, especially in the time of a disease outbreak/biosecurity outbreak.

And in saying this, Keith:

What the industry needs collectively is explicit protocols as to information rules for animal purchases. All purchases need to come with a signed declaration as to the known status of the selling farm. This status has to be explicit as to whether the farm is known to be infected or is a farm that has been identified for tracing purposes. Prior incoming animal movements over at least the three preceding years need to be stated.

Isn't that exactly what NAIT and TBfree NZ procedures, as managed by OSPRI, are supposed to be in charge of at present?

It just seems to me, a definite outsider, that looking in, the insiders are saying - gee, we need to take this more seriously now because in the past we've talked the talk but not required that we walk the walk.

Kate m bovis is using up significant manpower which Ospri doesn't have. DairyNZ has shifted more staff in to Southland. MPI staff simply don't understand farming systems and therefore the practical implications of some of what they are telling farmers they need to do. Managing a disease outbreak is quite different to managing a database which effectively is what NAIT is. Ospri's role is basically data management not managing actual biosecurity/disease outbreaks.

Kate and others,
From where I sit, NAIT has actually been successful to a significant extent, and that is demonstrated by the graphic to this post. Otherwise all of those forward traces could not have been identified. There have indeed been inadequacies in NAIT but farmer non compliance is also being used as a scapegoat - the issue has become political. Throughout this saga, MPI has struggled with getting enough people to do the identified tracings, and that is where much of the delays have occurred. And now, they are overwhelmed by the amount of tracing that is needed. What is now evident is that the Mycoplasma stealth bombers were trundling around long before we knew they were there. Accordingly, with the knowledge we now have, Mycoplasma versus MPI was always going to be a win to Mycoplasma. The incompetence of MPI has led to a lot of misinformation and angst, but it is not the reason that Mycoplasma has now become endemic. To have stopped that occurring, NZ would have had to have its farm veterinarians and farmers trained up many years ago to be alert for the first signs.

Thanks, Keith - I always appreciate your follow up/active contribution to the threads on your posts.

I was wondering whether the 70% non-compliance with NAIT was a valid criticism by government, or a scapegoat. It's an absolute shocking statistic - and it is only the industry itself (not the government) that can be seen as liable/responsible for that non-compliance.

If, as Guy Trafford reported in the comments on his article here;


"O'Connor, today, is standing behind his earlier comments, that farmers should foot 40% of the MPB bill despite what the legislation says., i.e. Farmers to be fully compensated for meeting MPI complience. 60% falls short of that..."

is correct, no wonder it has become political.

Given the level of non-compliance in the sector, combined with the poor practice that goes with that in terms of 4-day old calf sales, compensation/cost on the general tax take becomes a major issue given the spread (and the fact that this issue will obviously be with us for a very, very long time).

I guess my point is, the sector is pointing the finger at MPI - MPI are pointing the finger at the sector - and, aside from the question of whether or not to eradicate or manage, the big question is who pays?

Personally, I think the greater amount of understanding by the non-farming community, the better - and I'm really appreciative of everyone on that shares their knowledge.

Thanks everyone.

We need to find out what this 70 percent non compliance actually comprises. I think we will find that almost all farmers are using NAIT, but that they are not all using it with the necessary fastidiousness. We may, for example, find that a lot of the non compliance relates to just one animal in a shipment that is missing a tag, or an animal died but that did not get notified.

The issue of who should pay is a big issue. The Minister and Government could simply walk away and say from here on industry pays everything. Taxpayers could well argue that this is a big issue for the dairy industry, and increasingly for the beef industry, but it is not necessarily a key issue for the rest of the country. In this regard, Mycoplasma belongs in a very different category than foot and mouth, where an outbreak would be of huge national importance.
Keith W

What would be the argument for the taxpayer compensating farmers?

Extinguishing of property rights, the affected farmers currently have no choice in the culling of cows, thats all cows in the herd not just infected ones.
The obvious reasoning is if you don't no one would come forward to notify authorities of the disease. As it is the original contract milkers who come forward have had such a hard time and lost so much they quit the country.

Based on our performance with M.Bovis it is reasonable to assume Foot and Mouth will be well established here by the time we recognise it.
Our sloppy practices will ensure rapid transmission and it will be a blood bath.

Hopefully not - certainly all vets and hopefully a lot of farmers are trained to hit the red alert button if they see blisters on the mouth and feet of farm animals. M. Bovis seems to be more insidious and has symptoms that are also seen with other diseases.

Ok, are there big red posters on the milkshed walls , and pigties, reminding of symptoms and including emergency numbers?

There are no definitive symptoms and it can only be confirmed by testing which while it is the best we have is unreliable. It was thought the bulk milk test devised here in NZ was the answer for dairy cattle, but given one farmer is having to cull all animals despite a negative bulk milk test, shows that that too can't be relied on to be 100% accurate. Works can check things like tonsils once an animal is killed to advise if that animal has it but it has to be dead to do that. Vets are in the best position to suggest it is a possibility.

I am at a loss to understand how this even happened .

Was it brought in from overseas , and if so , how , when we have such strong border controls ?

First it was Kiwifruit , now this .

Kiwifruit was clearly because we imported contaminated root stock from China . What were we thinking , importing root stock from China ? China has a third -world agricultural sector , where the standards and quality -controls are practically non-existent.

The soil on the roots was apparently infected .

We go over the top at Auckland airport with something as benign as running shoes ( I have had a pair of running shoes confiscated by MAF at the airport for having soil on them ) , but we import tons of rootstock with soil , from , of all places , China .

We are all at a loss as to how it happened. There are seven possible generic ways that it got here. MPI regards each as 'improbable', but one of them did indeed happen. Live animals, frozen semen, embryos, vaccines or other biological materials would seem most likely. At the moment it is a case of 'take your pick'. We all have our theories but none of us has the necessary evidence at this stage.
As for kiwifruit Psa, the circumstantial evidence is that it came in with kiwifruit pollen, not rootstock. There is very strong suspicion that it came from a specific orchard in Shaanxi Province from China. I have myself visited kiwifruit orchards in Shaanxi and I see no reason to doubt the circumstantial evidence. With hindsight, it is clear those importations should not have been allowed, but at the time it was not recognised that the Psa could come in with pollen. My understanding is that NZ companies were involved on both sides of that export-import business, so we really cannot blame the Chinese.
As for soil on shoes, I support all measures that MPI takes to try and ensure foot and mouth disease never enters NZ. When I am coming back from places like China I am always explicit with the officers as to where I have been and I have no objection to (and actually request) fastidious cleaning and disinfecting of my shoes, despite my having already cleaned them.

Even my partner on return from trips to foreign farms decided to just toss any boots at the end of the trip or into the airport waste before flying, Saves further risk of contamination on what often can be a cheap boot replacement cost. Decent steel caps like mine though are a different story so coming from sites & rural areas it is down to the disinfectants we usually pack for this scenario. However realistically most people will not do this and certainly tourists& locals will often not do it. See Waitakere Ranges boot cleaning issues where 90% avoid cleaning or using stations even with large amounts of advertising and even bans. We have had numerous incursions due to poor biosecurity, it is no surprise that even basic personal measures are lacking from most travellers.


There you go again-"clearly because we imported contaminated root stock from China-wrong as usual-it was pollen.
i have taken my tramping gear to several countries and clean my boots and pole thoroughly before coming back.i then declare them and have them ready for inspection.That is no more than any responsible person would be expected to do. were your running shoes really confiscated? I doubt it.

Hi Keith, I agree with your thoughts. One point though on the purchase and sale of herds. You completely miss the huge industry of store stock sales here in nz. Right from the sale of a million? 4 day old calves.

Yes, I agree. Four-day old calves is where the farm to farm transfer starts, and it seems that in Southland at least but also probably elsewhere this has been the predominant source of transfer. And this is why it is now showing up on beef farms. So the beef feeder farms and their suppliers will need to get their act together. That part of the industry will need to change.

'That part of the industry will need to change."
Trouble is it actually needed to change on the 17/7 2017, or when ever that day was. And as much as its now hindsight, with the wonders of social media we can see many of us have been asking is it really a problem cause its not really being treated like it is with stock movement anywhere still possible? Stock movements along with feed milk are the problem and both have now had a full season to spread almost uninhibited and that seems to stem from an MPI lack of understanding of NZ systems.

There were no animal transfers from identified infected properties. The problem has been from non-identified properties.And that was going on for several years. And there lies the nub of the problem. MPI focused on forward traces when back traces were of at least equal importance. But in all likelihood the 'horse'had already bolted.
Keith W
Keith W

Blimey, that's going to be a massive change. I'm often at Tuakau saleyards and commonly there'll be a pen of 25 calves from potentially 25 different farms. They definitely don't have enough pens to do farm lots, in fact they have been jamming them in because they only have a few covered pens and apparently it's too expensive to put a roof over more pens.

What does a calf with an ear infection look like? Is it an external infection like a dog might get, or an inner ear infection that makes it lose its balance?

It is an inner ear infection and the calf is likely to hold its head at an unusual angle
Keith W

A question on that map. Is it produced direct form NAIT or is it put together manually?

It is put together manually using NAIT data

Surely its in farmers interest for the source to be found and learnings taken to help prevent outbreaks of other viruses in the future. Often it takes something like this for an industry to see first hand where their pre-plans have failed and in this case it appears pre-plans for containing this disease haven't worked that well.

It would also be interesting if high stock rates and foods such as palm kernel are affecting the immunity of the herds as suggested by that visiting American vet (whose name escapes me). His interview on Breakfast seemed sensible. I doubt however its in the industrys interest to take this further.

Palm kernel extract (PKE) is used predominantly in the shoulder seasons to balance a shortage of pasture. As such it helps to prevent underfeeding of cattle and this should improve immunity. There is no evidence that PKE is detrimental to immunity.
High stocking will reduce immunity if the high stocking means the cows are under-fed.
Keith W
Information on Offences and fines.
However sometimes people just don’t want to play by the rules. This jeopardizes the effort put in by other farmers throughout the country, it also breaks the law. If we've spoken to you a number of times and you continue to ignore your NAIT obligations, your case will be escalated to MPI who may seek to recover infringement fees in the first instance. In some cases MPI may take legal action against repeat offenders.

Offence Description Infringement Fee
Failure to register as a PICA $300
Failure to register a NAIT animal $150
Failure to record the movement of an animal $150
Failing to NAIT tag an animal $150
Failing to apply a replacement tag and registering that animal if a tag is lost or damaged $150
Applying the wrong tag for the animal species (e.g. applying an orange tag to cattle) $150
If a NAIT animal arrives at a location without a NAIT tag, failing to either return the animal or fit a replacement tag and register the animal $150
Failure to notify NAIT of an event and register its location $150
Failure to register a transit stop $150
Failure to report the death of an animal $150
Failure to inform NAIT of changes to your personal information $150
Failure to take all reasonable steps to ensure information supplied to NAIT is correct $150

Hands out for compensation. Has anyone been fined for anything ?

Good question.

Whats the value $ of a cow now?

Whats the value (dollar or lending worth) of a sharemilkers herd/cow collection now?


It appears that industry is it's own worse enemy: Dairy - mycoplama, Honey - varroa mite, Kiwifruit PSA.

MPI confirms Mycoplasma bovis found on Waikato farm

Based on the map above, it seems pretty safe to assume that the disease is NZ wide.

I have done similar analysis with DHB for human illness. Best course of action is to always assume worst case and stop everything. Sadly doing that always leads to disruption - and we can't have that.

So we plod along shutting gates after the horse (or in this case cow) has bolted.

NAIT never worked it was dreamed up by a bunch of idiots, people with no skin in the game. Pushed by tag manufacturers, Beef and Lamb and some large corporates.

So it's mid winter and I've got a dead bull, it's tag is missing, Ive started lambing,I have 500 others alive. I ring NAIT and ask what I should do, clerk on end of phone out of his depth.
Do i go through the other 500 cattle, bringing them into the yards in the wet and try to work out the dead animals id by deduction? No, I wait till I start killing in the spring, but by then I've started buying more cattle so it's hard to figure which is the dead one among all the numbers, others, sometimes %10 also have lost tags as I have lots of netting in the deer block. I have to deal with 600+kg animals with lost tags and try to put my farm AHB tag in their ear or get penalised at the works.

When I buy cattle some turn up with wrong tag, some won't read no one can tell me why we need all this b/s in the first place.

It was always poorly thought out, the meatworks always know my animals, they pay me on dead weight so I take it they follow through at least to that part of the process. Most of them have been on my farm for 18mths -2years.

Now we get to test the system and it fails, something most farmers new from day one.

If we get Foot and mouth we will vaccinate, look at the balls up in the UK.
I went to TESCO to buy some NZ lamb, on the freezer it said product of, Australia, New Zealand or Argentina, foot and mouth is endemic in Sth America and you get Brazilian beef all over the EU.

Tags that are not durable or or with a fixing method that does not last will always be set up to fail sometime, yet the costs of microchip implants, (& still with a % failure to be tracked rate), would be prohibitively expensive. However if you could in the case you gave mark the bull with a temporary or replacement tag until you could check others it would still be able to be identified & separated later. But if you instead do not track it, or separate it, or cannot have that temporary tag attached, or do not care to do anything, then yes it will get mixed in. Really it comes down to the fastidiousness of data integrity, flexibility for edge cases and expecting farmers, who are busy enough as it is, to pick up a whole new set of skills & concern for data integrity. Especially since the fines & checks for failure are worthless. After all there is already enough farmers who have difficulty even managing the farming part as it is, (with both the physical & financial costs being quite substantial & she'll be right). So it was a limited tracking system service implementation and years later with no decent improvements, with live issues in the field, means it would fast track itself into obsolescence. Here's hoping someone improves or redesigns the service. I am sure there is an organisation responsible for that, perhaps you can contact them to demand better standards for the service, even get a petition going or encourage a competing method. But then again often the case is "there is too much to do even to manage the system as it is".

Andrew, from the NAIT website:

"If you do not know which tag was lost, register the animal against the new tag in the same way you would register a newly tagged animal. Lifetime traceability for this animal will be lost."

I don't own a scanner (like most farmers). If I have an animal without a tag, I put in a replacement tag which I think only has the farm number on it. So I have lots of animals on my list that are long gone and no way of identifying them.

Perhaps NAIT is a overkill, maybe only the farm owner needs to be identified with a simple tag, if the animal is sold a second owner adds a second tag, etc etc
A scheme run as a alternative to Nait.

For me, it's here to stay and is a matter of when not if every dairy farm comes into contact. In the meantime there's going to be trepidation. It'll be tough for Graziers who may have multiple clients heifers, Crowds that lease bulls.

Will schools exclude calves from Ag Day this year to slow the spread?

Hi Keith,

Apologies if this is a silly question or if you have previously answered.

Obviously this disease has broken out and appears to be across NZ - just for my understanding - what is a worse case scenario?

1. Are we looking at large scale culls of Beef in NZ - or is this just a disease that is manageable?
2. Will this affect Fonterra and potential pay-out if Dairy famers need to get cattle culled?

Apologies once again if these questions are silly - as I'm just trying to understand potential larger scale impact on NZ Economy

Grant 936
No, this is not a silly question, and it is not easy to answer.
1) Everywhere else in the world the experience is that it is manageable. But it will hit some farmers hard and we will have to change some aspects of our livestock systems. In particular, 'bed and breakfast' style farming where animals travel from property to property will probably become a thing of the past.
2) This will affect farmers rather than Fonterra. However, it could have some effect on Fonterra if a significant number of farmers decide to raise their young stock on the dairy farm rather than send them away for other farmers to look after. If this occurs, then milking cow numbers will need to be reduced to compensate for the feed eaten by young stock.
Keith W

Great thank you for the answer - Looks to be manageable but obviously some poor farmers will be hit hard by this - always interesting to understand the economic impact - especially in light of the $ weakness that has being put down in part to this disease.

If MPI are serious about controlling Myco bovis then they need to shut down the calve rearing industry, go on do it ,I dare you. Lets knock a hole in our exports the size of Africa and ruin profitability on a huge percentage of farms, farms dependent on bull fattening and Dairy grazing.

If you don't have the balls to shut down calve rearing and then for gods sake stop the needless cull of cows from infected farms, firstly because it's a horrible waste and secondly because we will have to compensate, when will MPI stop compensating ? when we get over %50?

I wonder how realistic it might be to stop the cull but maintain the quarantine of known/affected farms - and to require testing of all farms not yet tested before any outwards stock movements can proceed?

They need to close the systems so animals leave to the works but not other farms, how big a deal? could be huge, no more feed pads, lower stocking, no grazing off farm. MPI are failing but no increase in funding in budget, if politicians really think funding MFAT is more important than trade they are about to learn a lesson. Next could be pitch Pine canker or Pine beetle knocking out our pine industry, for all we know it could already be happening, too many tourists from too many dodgy places.

This is why we pay the top at MPI so much money, to make the difficult decisions, I have no confidence in them.

I think you'll find that additional funding is being provided for.

I think you're saying don't compensate for culled cows, but rather for the loss of income associated with the ancillary farms systems/services provided to the dairy industry?


Indeed, the dairy and meat sectors are the majority of our export income. Sure, there's a long tail of other export sectors, but none of them are gonna step up to the plate as a replacement if the current kerfuffle is mishandled.

I agree with KW that the source and historic extent of M Bovis are essentially unknowable, so there is little point in apportioning blame given the complete absence of cause and timing.

What is now vital is to handle the problem with delicacy and with an eye to export income preservation. But with the current herd of Parliamentary bovines on the case, I'm not confident that the China shop will remain intact....

I suspect you'll be surprised. It could well be a master class in political management. A week ago we had the announcement from Twyford that there will be no immediate big spend up on Kiwibuild. I'm guessing money has been diverted to addressing this problem.

Peters and Ardern both have roots in rural/regional NZ. Ardern's comment on it were that the Nats had underfunded biosecurity to a shocking degree, and that the government weren't yet prepared to give up on eradication. Both those comments have to be backed up by a serious allocation of funds to make good on the implications.

It's a perfect political opportunity for the coalition to demonstrate its commitment to rural NZ and the fact that we are largely an agrarian economy.

Sorry Kate but I think that is laughable. They have jumped onto the blame National argument, along with the blame farmers cos they havent used Nait properly, and thats all we hear at the moment. Blame doesnt get things done. And they have had more than 6 months to get a handle on things. But noooo....snails in a horse race. And the ahh horse bolted a while ago.

Belle, do you think they can ramp up testing before the calf rearing season, so farmers will know calves purchased come from Myco bovis free farms? The other options are going to hammer farmers, looks like it's going to come down to closed systems.

We really need those calves on the ground but no rearer is going to want to take the risk with losses so high from Myco Bovis, and being shut down on top. What we need is a rigorous testing regime and we need it now.

I believe peoples heads are in the sand. If you are a calf rearer you will more than likely continue to be a calf rearer. They are a hardy bunch. I mean look at last season. It was absolutely awful. Rained every damn day. But they also got paid very well. Friesian bulls were making $550 at 100kg, and the price stayed pretty stable. So I believe it will be business as usual this year. Until a number of people get hit hard. Then the word will get out. Then rearers might rethink what they pay the dairy cocky for calves knowing the added risk. Systems will change. Using bulk colostrum might not be wise. Using antibiotic milk would be very foolish.
The stock companies desperately need to change their sale methods. Putting calves from different farms together in a pen for sale is crazy. But who is out there overseeing this behaviour? Who is going to put the kibosh on it. Dont know Andrew. CMR ...calf milk replacer will be used more. It will become more expensive to rear calves. The 4 day old price will have to drop. But a few bad experiences and time are required to change things. I doubt MPI have the balls or nous to do anything.

I know one thing Aj, I wont be rearing calves. Mbovis just puts the icing on the cake. As 4 day old they are over priced. CMR is too expensive and nowadays you need 2.5 to 3 bags to rear a calf properly.
I have rediscovered sheep farming Aj. Its beating cattle farming hands down at the moment.

Look after your back, keep your Knees warm and out of the way of rams.. Apparently the Micro Bovis test is only %60 accurate so looks like choices will be limited.

I've seen some articles about control measures that involve pasteurisation or acidification of calf milk to kill the M. Bovis.

Doris I use to use a colostrum warmer to heat it. Yeuch, just think custard sticking to pan. The quantities used...the change in consistency...not easy. Aj....been good at ducking and diving so far. The productivity bred into our nz ewes now is pretty damn good. Feed them and they milk like stink. The lambs grow like mushrooms. Its very quick turnover and has become very rewarding. Leaves cattle for dead.

Belle, what do you think - $85 million in this budget for Mbovis response and $9.3m boost to biosecurity - with Robertson saying he knows there is likely more needed;

Testing of all farms at the level of confidence to say that the farm is free of Mycoplasma bovis is logistically non-feasible. With 'gypsy day' (Movement Day for the politically correct) coming up on May 31, then preventing movements on all trace properties is also hugely problematic as it means farmers will be left stranded away from their cows. And it still will not be enough to stop the spread, because when some of these trace properties go positive, then the trail leads to new trace properties. So, this really is a mess.
Keith W

"Prevalence varies across regions and between production systems, but it’s well established that across Europe, Mycoplasma bovis is a highly prevalent bacteria.

Exposure increases in systems which rely on mixing of animals from multiple sources, and with high stress husbandry systems. A study5 on Belgian veal units found Mycoplasma bovis in 87.5% of respiratory disease outbreaks. In an Italian study6, 100% of the 6 month old veal calves at slaughter had been exposed to Mycoplasma bovis. 'In the UK' 2015 data from a subsidised serology scheme run by Zoetis showed 50% of '2460 calves' with a history of respiratory disease, had been exposed to Mycoplasma bovis. This figure had increased from 45% in 2014 and 41% in 2013. We will shortly have the figures for 2016, but if preliminary data from Scotland and Northern Ireland are any indication, it is probable that 2016 will see a further rise in these figures."

Certainly makes those greens look more astute than the brilliant business brains who claim to know whats best for NZ inc.

“For two years we’ve been dealing with sick and crippled cows, unexplained deaths, low yields and poor fertility,” said Mr Maughan.

Being downplayed to the public perhaps? Watch the dollar.

42 people earning over $100,000. The crowd in a Lambton Quay cafe on a Tuesday morning? No. The staff of OSPRI. 6 Million a year to administer a clusterF. Accountability?

If we didn't have NAIT, they would be flat out telling us this is why we need animal id.

Good point Westie

I thought this comment sums it up nicely;

Overall New Zealand has a big decision to make about this disease - short term pain for potential long term gain or long term pain.

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