Advice about Mycoplasma bovis for farmers, rural contractors, and transporters

What farmers, transporters and rural contractors need to do to help control Mycoplasma bovis and information about available support and compensation.

Farmers

Look out for signs and report the disease

Look out for signs of Mycoplasma bovis and report to your vet or the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on 0800 80 99 66.

Signs include:

  • unusual mastitis in cows that doesn't respond to treatment
  • arthritis in cows and calves
  • late-term abortion
  • high numbers of calf deaths.

Not all infected animals get sick as sometimes the disease is dormant, only appearing when animals are under stress – for example when calving, being transported or in adverse weather. They can spread the disease to other cattle through close contact.

Mycoplasma bovis mainly affects cattle and has little effect on other production animals. It does not affect horses and other pets.

Practice good on-farm biosecurity

Keep NAIT and animal movement records up-to-date

NAIT is New Zealand's cattle and deer tracing system and complying with it is law. It's critical that you maintain up-to-date and accurate NAIT and other animal movement records. Accurate record keeping helps us track animal movements and locate any that could be affected. It is also a useful tool for managing your own on-farm biosecurity by providing you a complete history of brought-in animals. 

Check what to do when moving cattle

Moving day can go ahead as long as farms have sensible precautions in place. These include maintaining up-to-date NAIT movement records, understanding herd health history, and using good on-farm biosecurity measures.

Protect stock when grazing off the home farm

Thousands of New Zealand dairy cattle are wintered or grazed off their home farms. There are many ways graziers can protect the health of the stock they manage.

Download information sheets from the DairyNZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand websites:

Culling to prevent further spread

On 26 March 2018, MPI made the decision to cull all cattle on the infected farms in New Zealand. This involves animals either going to slaughter at processing plants or being culled on-farm if they are not healthy enough for processing. The cull is a critical measure to control the spread of the disease.

This will be a planned process that will take time to complete. We are working to accommodate the circumstances of the individuals impacted by the cull. 

MPI will work closely with affected farmers to plan the logistics of this large exercise. All affected farmers will be compensated for their verifiable losses. Once farms are de-populated and cleaned, it will be possible to start re-building a disease-free herd from scratch.

Farm service providers

Farmers should be using routine on-farm biosecurity practices to minimise risk to their animals. Comply with the farm's cleaning and disinfection requirements to help minimise risk.

  • Don’t arrive unannounced. Let the farmer know you plan to visit their farm and ask what their requirements are.
  • Work with the farmer to comply with any farm biosecurity requirements.
  • Clean and disinfect footwear, protective clothing and equipment before coming on the farm and again before leaving the farm.
  • Be proactive – assure farmers of your hygiene practices.

Trucking companies

Work with farmers to meet their hygiene requirements.

All properties under a Restricted Place Notice require permits to move animals on or off the property, including between properties and to slaughter. Places under Notices of Direction require permits to move animals off (but not onto) the place. The permits require the truck to be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each movement.

Safe to move vehicles to other farms

It is absolutely safe for tradesmen and truck drivers to move from infected farms to other properties.

All infected farms are under strict legal controls under the Biosecurity Act. These controls include a comprehensive cleaning and disinfection protocol which MPI provided to them. This makes sure vehicles have a very small biosecurity risk.

All vehicles are cleaned and disinfected before leaving properties. Vehicles carrying animals – for example, transporters to the meat processing premises – are disinfected on exit, going directly to the meat processor (not to other farms) and then thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at the plant on completing the job.

Vehicles from neighbouring farms are not required to clean vehicles leaving their properties as the biosecurity risk is considered by MPI to be very small.

Calf days, cattle shows and events

This spring, we recommend against schools and clubs holding calf days. Bringing animals from different herds together poses a risk of disease spread.  While the risk is relatively low, we are in a critical phase for tracking down and eradicating Mycoplasma bovis and unnecessary mixing of animals at events like calf days should be avoided.

Schools and clubs that go ahead with events, must ensure they have consulted with their communities and taken all sensible precautions.  Our fact sheet has some simple precautions you can take to minimise the risks.

Welfare support

MPI is working closely with industry organisations, the Rural Support Trust, and government agencies to support people who are most affected. We've prepared a fact sheet with information on looking after yourself if you're affected by the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. 

Compensation

Affected farmers can claim compensation where MPI's exercise of legal powers (under the Biosecurity Act 1993) has caused them a verifiable loss, either:

  • as a result of damage to or destruction of the person's property, or
  • as a result of restrictions imposed on the movement or disposal of the person's goods.

Learn more about Biosecurity Act compensation

Mycoplasma bovis compensation claim form user guide [PDF, 446 KB]

Resources

Who to contact

If you have questions about Mycoplasma bovis:

For support, contact your local Rural Support Trust:

  • call 0800 78 72 54 (0800 RURAL HELP). 
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