What does phased eradication mean for farmers?
The attempt at phased eradication of M. bovis from New Zealand will mean that the current tracing, testing, lock down, and culling programme will continue with the aim of first containing then eliminating M. bovis.
Where a herd has cattle that have tested positive for Mp. bovis, that farm will be subject to movement and biosecurity restrictions, and the herd will eventually be culled. The farm will then be disinfected and required to lie fallow for 60 days (following depopulation) before being repopulated.
While M. bovis is more prevalent and has a larger impact on dairy herds, it is likely that the phased eradication programme will impact beef farms too.
What does this mean for your farm?
Initially the response will be much the same as what we are seeing now, with intensive active surveillance, including testing and tracing, continuing in order to detect infected herds.
If you have bought or received grazing cattle or calves from a farm with M. bovis there is a risk you will be may be put under movement restrictions and subject to testing. There is advice below about how to manage the risk of bringing cattle onto your property. But if you have kept your cattle separate and kept good records then it will be easier for MPI to determine if your cattle have been infected or not.
It is likely that those farms under Restricted Place Notices, but not confirmed as infected, will need to have their herd culled in future, depending on risk and test results
If your herd has, or does test positive, for M. bovis it does mean that your farm will be subject to biosecurity and movement restrictions, and that your cattle will be culled. The Ministry for Primary Industries currently estimates that approximately 190 farms in total (including the ones already identified) will be infected and require depopulation. The prediction is that 126,000 cattle will be culled over the next 10 years in addition to the current culling underway. Most culling is expected to happen in the next 1 to 2 years.
In addition, following depopulation, an infected farm will be disinfected and lie fallow for 60 days to ensure it is free of M. bovis, after which it can be restocked.
MPI has committed to there being some flexibility around the timing of depopulation to offset production losses.
Where tracing information indicates that M. bovis is suspected on a farm, it will also mean biosecurity restrictions including movement controls until the status of a herd can be determined. This can take some weeks.
What is being done to support affected farmers?
MPI has committed to speeding up the compensation process for losses incurred because cattle were culled, and we encourage all farmers to keep comprehensive records to both assist with compensation claims as well as managing biosecurity issues.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand is also increasing its assistance for the Rural Support Trust and will be continuing to develop practical on-farm advice and tools for farmers to manage the specific biosecurity risks associated with M. bovis.
Where can I find more information on M. bovis and information on support and compensation?
Further down on this page you can find a comprehensive list of resources about M. bovis, including practical advice on biosecurity measures, information on understanding M. bovis and its impact, as well as details about the phased eradication programme and how to access support and compensation resources.
The Ministry for Primary Industries is managing the phased eradication programme and compensation claims, and more information on these can be found on their website or by contacting MPI directly on 0800 00 83 33 where they have a team dedicated to answering questions on M. bovis.
The Rural Support Trust is also available to assist farmers. More information is available on the Rural Support Trust’s website or on 0800 787 254.
What does Mycoplasma bovis mean for the beef industry?
To let us know where we’re at, industry and MPI experts reviewed the global literature on M. bovis in light of the NZ farming systems and predict that the impacts on beef production, were the disease to become established, will be minimal. More details can be found here.
As we learn more about the disease in New Zealand, there will be an opportunity to reassess the situation. However, our current understanding of the impacts observed during the outbreak gives us no reason to believe that this assessment needs to be changed.
Regardless of the clinical impacts of the disease, now that phased eradication is being pursued beef farmers need to treat M. bovis extremely seriously owing to the fact that infection, if detected, will be accompanied by whole-herd depopulation. Advice on keeping your farm free from M. bovis can be downloaded from the MPI Website.
Importantly, if you have a beef breeding herd and also rear bull beef or dairy beef steers, you are strongly advised to keep your breeding herd entirely separate and run as a closed herd. Keep very good records of this separation so that if infection is introduced with animals purchased for rearing, then response measures may only apply to those animals in contact with the purchased stock. MPI will provide more details about how to keep these records and what to do very soon.
We encourage you to review your biosecurity farm management practices and ensuring your NAIT records are complete and accurate.
From the outset, B+LNZ has been working closely with MPI, DairyNZ and other industry partners in a coordinated response and will continue to do so. We strongly encourage farmers to attend any MPI or industry led M. bovis meetings in their region.
We are developing further resources and would welcome feedback on what farmers feel they need at this time.
If you have any questions, contact your local farm extension team or email Paul McCauley (B+LNZ support person) at Paul.email@example.com
MPI M. bovis public meetings
The Ministry for Primary Industries are continually updating the list of meetings for their roadshow on their M.bovis website.
Mycoplasma bovis guidance for beef cattle farmers
- Download – Mycoplasma bovis guidance for beef cattle farmers (B+LNZ)
A booklet that outlines the steps cattle farmers can take to reduce the risk of introducing Mycoplasma bovis onto their farms.
Biosecurity resources for sheep & beef farmers
Specific resources for graziers, calf rearing and those bringing new cattle onto their property.
- Download – Protect your farm from M. bovis (MPI)
A summary on how to protect your farm from M. bovis
- Download – M. bovis information for graziers (B+LNZ)
The following tips will help you protect the cattle under your care from the spread of this and other diseases
- Download – Biosecurity communication plan for graziers (B+LNZ)
A guide for farmers grazing cattle, on what they need to check, when and with who, to keep M. bovis off their farm
- Web link – Biosecurity on grazing properties (Dairy NZ)
This interactive guide for graziers can protect the health of the stock they manage.
- Podcast – Managing the risk of M. bovis during the winter grazing season (B+LNZ)
Richard Laven of Massey University explains the precautions graziers and owners can take to further reduce the low risk of spreading the disease, and what farmers should be doing as good biosecurity management practice.
- Podcast - How to keep your farm free from M. bovis (B+LNZ)
Ashleigh Dobson and Paul McCauly cover all you need to know about the disease and keep it out of your herd so that phased eradication has the highest chance of success.
- Download – Precautions for calf rearing (B+LNZ)
If you’re buying or selling calves or milk over the coming months, here are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading M. bovis
- Download – Managing service bulls (MPI)
Recommendations for management of bulls
- Download – Pre-purchase checklist for M. bovis (MPI)
Pre-purchase checklist when buying cattle
- Download – Drystock Biosecurity Guidelines (B+LNZ)
Seven intervention points to help protect your farm from pests and diseases
- Download – WOF checklist (B+LNZ)
Use this checklist for sheep and beef farmers to identify ways you can help protect your farm
- Web link – Biosecurity associated with livestock movements (B+LNZ)
Suggested biosecurity practices for livestock movements – NAIT and quarantine
- Video – NAIT information by OSPRI (OSPRI)
A full suite of NAIT tutorial videos on how to use NAIT
- Web link – Your NAIT requirements (OSPRI)
Anyone in charge of cattle or deer must comply with NAIT regulations
- Web link – Manage your animals with NAIT (OSPRI)
Learn more about sending and receiving animals
- Web link – Farms online (MPI)
Rural information to help protect your livelihood and preserve the country’s future
- Download – Animal status declaration (MPI)
To complete when moving animals between properties or sending animals to slaughter
Understanding Mycoplasma bovis
- Download – Frequently Asked Questions about M. bovis for sheep & beef farmers (B+LNZ)
A collection of common questions and answers about M. bovis
- Web link – Mycoplasma bovis (MPI)
Protection, response and latest updates on M.bovis
- Download – What to look out for (MPI)
A3 poster available to download/print on ‘what to look out for’ to identify symptoms of M. bovis.
- Download – Potential impact of Mycoplasma bovis on the NZ beef sector (MPI)
Predictive assessment of the potential impact on the NZ beef sector
Information and advice if your property is put under movement restrictions or a decision is made to cull
- Download – Testing for Mycoplasma bovis factsheet (MPI)
An overview of the testing process and what it involves
- Download – Restricted Place Notices and Notices of Direction (MPI)
An overview of the testing process and what it involves
Compensation and support
- Download – Looking after yourself (MPI)
Who to contact for support when facing M.bovis
- Download – Biosecurity Act compensation form (MPI)
The Biosecurity Act compensation claim form
- Web link – Understanding Biosecurity Act compensation (MPI)
General information on understanding how Biosecurity Act compensation works, including guides and information on how the process works.
- Download – Mycoplasma bovis compensation claim form user guide (MPI)
A specific guide on filling out a Biosecurity Act compensation claim form relating to M. bovis
- Web link – Federated Farmers feed register (Federated Farmers)
Federated Farmers have set up a feed register for farmers to donate or sell feed to those farms affected by M. bovis
Mycoplasma bovis – an overview
- is a bacterial disease
- is commonly found in cattle all over the world, including in Australia, but this is the first detection of it in New Zealand. We were one of the last countries free of the disease - until now
- it does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk. There is no concern about eating meat, milk and milk products
- M. bovis is particularly difficult to detect, owing to the poor sensitivity of diagnostic tests, and the fact that many cattle which become infected will never show visible signs of disease
- however, under the right conditions, it can lead to serious conditions in cattle and therefore constitutes an animal welfare and productivity issue
- it spreads from animal to animal through close contact. Between farms it spreads through the movement of animals that are infected but not showing symptoms. It is also potentially spread on contaminated equipment and the feeding of untreated milk to calves. It is not windborne
- while some of the conditions can be treated, affected cattle will always be carriers of the disease
- the disease does not affect sheep or cause illness in goats.
How it affects cows
Infection does not mean clinical disease will develop. However, signs of M. bovis disease include:
- untreatable mastitis
- severe pneumonia in up to 30% of infected calves, starting as a hacking cough
- ear infections in calves, the first sign typically being one droopy ear, progressing to ear discharges and in some cases a head tilt
- swollen joints and lameness (severe arthritis/synovitis) in all ages of cattle
- if you see anything unusual or concerning in your animals, call your vet.
There are steps you can take on farm to help protect your animals from contracting M.bovis, by referring to the resources provided on this page.
For more information, you can go to the MPI webpage dedicated to Mycoplasma bovis.