The New Zealand Veterinary Association said good on-farm management is essential if plans to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) are to succeed.

Yesterday, the Government announced plans to attempt to eradicate M. bovis, by culling 126,000 cattle within the next 1-2 years, costing $886 million over 10 years.

Around 26,000 were already in the process of being culled.

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NZVA President Dr Peter Blaikie said eradication was the best option from an animal welfare point of view.

"We agree with the Government and the industry's assessment that eradication will not be easy and will come at huge personal and financial cost to farmers."

Despite speculation on how the bacterial disease arrived in New Zealand, investigations were still under way.

"We can't comment, we don't know, so all we can really do is let the Ministry for Primary Industries continue with their investigation and all will be revealed within due course," Blaikie said.

No other country has managed to eradicate M. bovis, but Blaikie supported the Government's decision and said action needed to be taken.

"We don't know how successful it will be at this point, but from an animal welfare point of view, we do need to give it a shot, it's the gold standard.

"The Government are saying they don't know either; we're going to know a lot more when the spring milk testing comes through, so I feel like we really need to get behind this," he said.

The disease was orginially discovered on a Southland farm last year and since then 41 properties have been infected, including one farm in Hawke's Bay.


Since procedures began to eradicate the disease, the total number of infected farms has reached 39.

Blaikie said he wanted to acknowledge the difficult time it had been for farmers, rural communities and the veterinarians who have been working with them.

"Farmers have been under a lot of pressure over recent months and widespread culling of herds will add to this distress.

"I also want to acknowledge the hard work done by vets during this outbreak.

"At times this has been challenging and emotionally draining for them."

The NZVA recommended farmers educate themselves as much as possible around M. bovis, by communicating with their local vet, The Ministry For Primary Industries and reading important information on national websites.

"I think working closely with your vet is vital to securing a decent biosecurity plan to ensure essential animal welfare in terms of M. bovis and to ensure good product stewardship," Blaikie said.