Mycoplasma bovis update

You may be aware a mixed dry-stock farm in the Tasman district has been confirmed as positive for Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis). It's the first time the disease has been found in this region.
Thursday, 16 August 2018

The affected farm was identified through the tracing of animals from known infected farms. It is connected to other infected properties through animal movements.

Following this new discovery, we want to give you an update on M. bovis, its impact on the beef sector and correct some misconceptions about the disease.

To our knowledge, all of the beef farms impacted by M. bovis so far have been infected by purchasing calves for rearing from infected dairy farms.

Beef breeding herds are not believed to be infected with M. bovis and the response, led by the Ministry for Primary Industries, is currently planning a surveillance programme to provide evidence of the absence of infection in dry-stock herds. 

While beef cattle breeds are biologically just as susceptible to M. bovis infection, dairy cattle management practices are, of course, quite different to those in beef production.

Dairy production methods make it much more likely that infection will be spread around the same herd than would be likely to happen in extensive beef farming. At the industry level, the frequent movement of animals between properties is a risk for spreading infection where animals come into contact with other mobs of cattle.

We have also heard reports that some farmers are being advised that only certain breeds can contract M. bovis. This is untrue. All breeds of cattle can be affected by this disease.

Infection with M. bovis, in most cases, doesn’t lead to clinical disease except under circumstances where animals are stressed, for instance, during calving. This clinical disease also leads to the shedding of the bacteria, increasing infection risk to other in-contact animals.

While overseas experience is that the disease itself has a more significant impact on dairy production than on beef production, we’re encouraging all farmers to take care as infection means whole herd depopulation.

Find out more

For advice on measures to protect your herds, please download our B+LNZ M. bovis Guidance for Beef Cattle Farmers booklet (PDF, 2.17MB)