Mp. Bovis: A quick Q&A | Beef + Lamb New Zealand
M Bovis

Mp. Bovis: A quick Q&A

Here are some of the questions farmers are asking – and answers, based on the information available at this point.
Wednesday, 30 May 2018

What’s the single most important thing I should think about to remain safe?

Limit the introduction of cattle onto your property and, if you do have new cattle coming on to your property, keep them separate from existing animals, if possible. That means a 2m buffer zone along fences, including roadways and lanes. Keep good records of how you have kept them separate from other mobs.

[Source: B+LNZ/DairyNZ]

If one class of beef tests positive will all my beef animals need to be slaughtered?

Now that phased eradication is being pursued, detection of the disease will mean whole-herd depopulation. However, the word “herd” is critical here. If you have a beef breeding herd and also rear bull beef or dairy beef steers, aim to keep your breeding herd entirely separate and run it as a closed herd.

Keep very good records of this separation, so that if infection is introduced via animals purchased for rearing, then response measures may only apply to those animals in contact with the purchased stock. MPI will soon provide more details about how to keep these records.
[Source: B+LNZ]

Should we be double-fencing boundary fences?

The disease spreads in two main ways – animal-to-animal contact and feeding infected milk to calves. You therefore need to avoid grazing paddocks when your neighbour has cattle in an adjacent paddock, unless you have a boundary that prevents nose to nose contact.

If you do not have a buffered boundary already – but you do have to graze that paddock – then create the 2m buffer zone using electric fencing.
[Source: MPI, B+LNZ and DairyNZ]

Does Mp. bovis affect sheep?

No. There are a limited number of reports in the scientific literature where Mp. bovis has been isolated from sheep but it is not generally regarded as a pathogen of sheep, nor do sheep play any direct role in the transmission of infection.
[Source: MPI]

Do movement restrictions on cattle farms include any restriction on the movement of sheep?

Yes. This is because although sheep do not pose an infection risk, alongside other livestock and farm equipment, they are potential carriers of contaminated material (on coats, hooves etc). However, this risk is very small and because of this, tracing of disease does not involve looking at movements of animals other than cattle that have occurred to and from properties of interest.

If we farm in an area that’s clear of Mp. bovis, should we insist all visitors, contractors and transport trucks clean their vehicles and equipment?

Vehicles pose very little Mp. bovis biosecurity risk. It is safe for trucks to move from infected farms to other properties, because all infected farms are under the Biosecurity Act’s strict legal controls which require comprehensive cleaning and disinfection before leaving the property.

However, farm equipment may play a role in the spread of the disease, especially equipment that comes into direct contact with infected animals, such as artificial insemination instruments.

Basic on-farm biosecurity is recommended. This includes monitoring of visitors who interact with cattle, and ensuring the clothing and footwear worn by contractors coming onto the farm to work with cattle is clean

Download MPI's Cleaning and disinfection guide (PDF, 374KB)
[Source: MPI, B+LNZ and DairyNZ]

If we had trading stock that tested positive, can we carry them through and finish them as prime?

MPI intends that infected farms be given some flexibility to continue to farm for a limited period prior to depopulation if they wish. These farms would be placed under movement restrictions (cattle on and off property) until depopulated and cleaned and disinfected. However, depending on risk, MPI may determine the need to cull before they reach prime.

Should we be cautious about buying from sale yards?

At this point, MPI believes the infection is contained and that most animals across New Zealand are free of the disease. In general, buying in stock from a single property where you have had a chance to seek information about the health status and history of the animals is the best way of reducing disease risk – of any sort – to your farm.
[Source: MPI]

Will beef cattle be subject to tests?

At this stage, only if your farm is connected to one of the properties that have tested positive for Mp. bovis. This includes those who have received animals from positive farms. Some wider surveillance for infection in the beef industry is expected, for example possibly including on-farm blood testing or swabbing animals at meat processors, but the details haven’t been finalised yet.
[Source: MPI]

Find out more

If you have other questions, please email us:, and we will do our best to address these in next week’s e-dairy.

More information is available on MPI's website