Protect your beef herd from Mycoplasma bovis

Regardless of the clinical impacts of Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), now that phased eradication is being pursued, beef farmers need to treat M. bovis extremely seriously.
Tuesday, 12 June 2018

If infection is detected in your herd, it will be accompanied by whole-herd depopulation.

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 herd 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.                                              

What you need

  • A quarantine area well away from other livestock for holding new or stray cattle.
  • Electric fencing equipment to build 2m barriers along boundary/road/laneway fences.
  • Signage at the gate to remind visitors of your biosecurity requirements.
  • Disinfectant and access to cold and hot water for cleaning equipment, clothing and hands.
  • Where applicable, have a system of recording livestock movements to provide proof that your cattle have had no contact with grazing animals.
  • Portable ramps and yards to be used for grazing or finishing dairy stock.

Biosecurity checklist

  • M. bovis is spread through close and direct contact between cattle. Create two-metre fence, laneway and road buffer zones using electric outrigger fencing or a separate electric fence two metres back from existing fences.
  • Ensure footwear, protective clothing and equipment that has been in contact with animals on other farms is either not used on your farm or is properly cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
  • Equipment that has been in direct contact with animals should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
  • When buying cattle, including bulls, find out the health history of the herd, particularly with respect to mastitis and lameness in cows and pneumonia and lameness in calves.
  • Where practical, limit cattle movements onto your farm. M. bovis  can be present in apparently healthy animals. Quarantine new stock for a minimum of seven days.
  • Maintain NAIT records and ensure Animal Health Declarations are fully completed and retained.

If you are grazing and/or finishing dairy stock

  • Have a separate NAIT account for your beef breeding herd and meticulously record all cattle movements using NAIT.
  • Isolate your beef breeding herd from other cattle. Ensure you have secure fencing and a two-metre buffer zone between your beef breeding cattle and other cattle. Consider a full paddock separation at all times.
  • Permanent cattle years should ONLY be used for your beef breeding herd. Use portable ramps /yards for other cattle.
  • Keep machinery (farm bikes and tractors) should be kept outside of paddocks with cattle in them. Where applicable have separate equipment for your beef breeding herd.
  • Have designated paddocks for your beef breeding herd. If you do need to use paddocks used by dairy stock clean and disinfect troughs and feeders. A stand-down period for the paddock is strongly recommended.
  • Do not co-graze sheep with dairy cattle and then expose them to your beef breeding herd. While it is unlikely that they will spread M. bovis on muck attached to their feet and fleece, you don’t want to take a chance that sheep will transfer the disease to your beef breeding herd. 

Cleaning and Disinfection          

  • Disinfection doesn’t work through dirt so remove all visible dirt and dung from gear and equipment that have been in contact with stock.
  • Once items are clean, apply disinfectant and leave on for a few minutes- ten minutes is ideal.
  • Suitable disinfectants for Mp.bovis are 1 % Virkon (made by mixing a standard 50g Virkon sachet with 5 litres of water), 0.2 % citric acid (made by mixing 1tsp citric acide with 1 litre of water) Trigene or any other suitable disinfectant used to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Provide a footbath with disinfectant and a scrubbing brush for visitors to clean their boots when they enter and leave the farm.
  • Have clean hot water and soap available so visitors can effectively clean their hands and any equipment they take off farm.

Transport

  • Ensure any cattle purchased are transported in clean trucks. Ideally, trucks should be hosed down between herds and again at the end of the day.
  • Individual vehicles pose very little risk although it is recommended visitors are transported around your farm in your vehicles.