May 29, 2018

New Zealand To Slaughter 150,000 Cows

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

In an effort to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis from the nation’s herd, more than 150,000 cows will be killed in New Zealand.


According to the Associated Press, officials plan to kill all cows on any farms where the bacteria are found, even if some of the animals are healthy. While many of the cows will be slaughtered at a processing plant and used for beef, some will have to be killed on farm or dumped in approved landfills.


“Officials have the legal authority to forcibly enter farms and kill animals even in cases where a farmer might resist, but they said they hope they don't have to use those powers,” the AP wrote.


New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacida Ardern, understands the “pain” farmers will face losing their cows but says failing to act would threaten the entire country’s herd and economy.


“Standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers," Ardern said.

Mycoplasma is a fairly common bacteria that can cause mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis among other issues. Unlike foot and mouth disease, another disease that requires mass culling to eradicate, Mycoplasma does not pose food safety concerns, but it does impact productivity.


Why eradication? You might think, mycoplasma is a disease we deal with in the U.S. often, why are they so concerned? Well, New Zealand and Norway were previously the only two countries in the world free of the bacteria. And if this program is successful, New Zealand would be the first country to successfully eradicate the disease, according to The Telegraph.

More than 10 million cows inhabit the island nation, which is more than the number of people who live there. More than 2/3 of the cows in New Zealand are dairy cows and the dairy industry is their No. 1 economic driver.