New Zealand prepares to slaughter 15000 cows in disease cull
11:11, May 30, 2018
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This cow disease was initially identified in the country in July in the year 2017 and is known to cause acute pneumonia, infections, and other serious conditions in cows. "We do believe we are taking it on at a point that it is possible to eradicate and more than 99% of farms don't have it and we want to protect them from having it".
Found in Europe and the US, the bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases.
The initial outbreak led to concerns that the disease could affect market access for New Zealand's dairy products, and caused a brief dip in the New Zealand dollar.
Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, said in a statement, "This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls".
"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really ugly", she said. About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.
However, Ardern said New Zealand - which relies heavily on livestock farming for its export earnings - would aim to eradicate the disease completely.
Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand in July previous year, and manifests in mastitis in cows, severe pneumonia, ear infections and other symptoms.
The decision, dubbed "phased eradication", was made collectively by the government and farming sector bodies and the estimated cost is $886 million over 10 years. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.
The bodies of cows killed are set to be sold as meat, buried, or dumped in landfills.
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. Since it was first detected, the disease has spread to 37 farms, and computer modeling suggests it will eventually reach some 142 farms.
Officials say they should know by the end of the year whether the eradication plan is working.
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