New Zealand to cull 126,000 cows to eradicate disease

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New Zealand plans to slaughter about 150,000 cows as it tries to eradicate a strain of disease-causing bacteria from the national herd.

Mycoplasma bovis can lead to conditions such as udder infection, pneumonia and arthritis in affected cattle, but does not pose a food safety risk or any risk to humans.

The recently cropped-up bacteria strain has been found on 38 New Zealand farms thus far and, according to officials, is expected to spread.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke in a press release about the difficulty farmers would face losing their herd and the costs of eradication, which she said could total over NZ$800 million dollars.

The alternative plan, long term management of the disease, was estimated to cost $1.2 billion.

After Mycoplasma bovis was first discovered in New Zealand last July, the government and dairy industry had to act.

However, Ms Ardern said New Zealand - which relies heavily on livestock farming for its export earnings - would aim to eradicate the disease completely.

The government is announcing its decision about whether to eradicate or contain the cattle disease, Mycoplasma bovis.

It has been made clear by the officials that all the cows belonging to an infected farm will be killed even if they are healthy.

"No one ever wants to see mass culls. We will work with MPI and industry groups to make sure the system to support farmers is robust and delivers well into the future", Katie says.

A program to slaughter some 26,000 cattle is already underway. "And we have to support them as neighbors, community members, farmers, friends". A further 126,000 animals, at 192 properties, will be added to the cull, at a cost of NZ$886 million (€526 million, $615 million).

New Zealand is now home to around 10 million cows, two-thirds of which are dairy cows. It has 6.6m dairy cows.

"We don't know, in the long-term, what impact it could collectively have on an industry that is incredibly important to New Zealand's economy", she said.

Mycoplasma bovis was first observed in the cows of South Island only but gradually it has spread up to the North Island also in the current year.