New Zealand slaughtering more than 100000 cows to eradicate bovine disease

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor speaks with Southland Rural Support Trust chairman John Kennedy

Politicians and industry leaders announced the ambitious plan on Monday.

Mycoplasma bovis can cause such ailments as mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis. Since it was first detected, the disease has spread to 37 farms, and computer modeling suggests it will eventually reach some 142 farms.

The slaughter represents only a fraction of New Zealand stock, a herd of 10 million cattle in more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms.

Although Mycoplasma bovis doesn't affect humans, according to DairyNZ, the spread of the disease impacts animal well-being and productivity.

Although many cows are expected to be killed at processing plants and be used for beef, some may have to be killed and buried on farms or in specified landfills, AP reported.

Katie Milne, president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, said they would try to ensure that farmers received the financial and emotional support they required.

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She pledged government support for these farmers to ensure the long-term success of the country's farming sector.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really disgusting", she said.

The main aim of this culling project is to protect the New Zealand economy, with milk being the countries single largest export.

Mycoplasma bovis has so far been found on 38 farms throughout New Zealand, officials say, a number they expect to rise to at least 142 farms based on computer modeling. 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).

Authorities are investigating how the bacteria arrived in New Zealand despite its strict biosecurity controls.

Already, 26,000 cattle have been destroyed in the 10 months since the disease was first recorded in New Zealand. The nation would be spending near about NZ$800m (five hundred sixty million dollars) over about ten years in order to protect the dairy herd of New Zealand and secure the future dairy production of the nation's farming industry, which yields the nation the second largest profit. The government plans to pick up about two-thirds of the tab while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest.

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