The latest issues facing the dairy industry: Mycoplasma bovis

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Anything that presents a risk to our dairy industry should be taken very seriously.

Our dairy industry plays a vital part in our economy and is often faced with challenges. From the unpredictable weather causing havoc, to unforeseen threats, to animal welfare.

One of these threats is currently in full force across New Zealand.

Farms all over New Zealand are currently undergoing assessments and testing for Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis). It’s a bacterial disease that affects the welfare and condition of cattle.

Since M. bovis was found in July 2017 in the South Island, there have been 38 farms with the disease confirmed nationwide, with hundreds more under assessment.

In May this year, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) announced the intention to completely eradicate the disease from New Zealand. This means facing the harsh reality of total herds being culled in the next 1-2 years.

As a nation we should all be doing our bit to understand the issues facing the dairy industry and implications of M. bovis. While there are no food health risks to the general public, by understanding what’s going on we can support our rural industry.

What impact does Mycoplasma bovis have on farms?

Whether a farm is infected or not, every farm now has to abide by strict biosecurity rules to avoid spreading the disease further.

  • Biosecurity WOF. A great tool that farmers are using is the biosecurity WOF created by Dairy NZ. It gives a clear breakdown of everything that needs to be done to ensure they stay disease-free or prevent M. bovis from further spread.
  • Eradication plans. For those farms facing a complete cull of their herd, MPI has a plan of how the eradication process will work for infected farms. Each farm will be given a Case Manager to work through the process and may be slightly different for each farm.
  • Clear rules and guidelines for all. The responsibility doesn't just lie with the farm. Visitors and contractors need to be aware that they cannot drive into the farm without permission. There are strict cleaning regimes in place that anyone coming and going from the farm must adhere to.

What does it mean for the future of farming?

At this stage, M. bovis is not an economic issue. It is more about the confidence of our rural industry and dealing with the fact some farmers’ livelihoods are unstable.

Farmers face a rough road ahead with the extra work they now have to undergo to stay disease-free. The management of biosecurity is nearly a job in itself and needs to be managed diligently.

What are some options for farmers?

Selling land or equipment

If farmers are looking to sell equipment or land, extra care will need to be taken to help with the eradication. Due to the extra precautions and restrictions, everyday processes will generally take longer.

Moving cattle

Because of the restrictions of moving cattle off the farm for winter grazing, farmers may have concerns over nutrient levels and questions about meeting resource consents. For these concerns, it’s important farmers work with their MPI Case Managers.

Changing direction

Some farmers may decide to change tack. If their herd has been culled then they’ll have the option to re-stock the farm or go down a different route. For example, a farmer in South Canterbury became a sharemilker instead of farming his own herd after his cattle were culled.

Quick tip: For the latest news on M. bovis and infected properties, you can keep up to date with the online MPI situation report.

TelferYoung valuers are here to help

At TelferYoung, we support our farming industry in anyway we can. If you’re facing threats of M. bovis, and are looking to change the use of your land, you can seek advice from our qualified valuers.

Our combined knowledge of rural property and the current market can help farmers make informed decisions about what’s right for them and their future.

Talk to your local TelferYoung valuer today.


Posted 4 months ago