The M. Bovis outbreak will not halt the dairy industry's annual Moving Day, when thousands of farmers and cattle move around the country, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor has confirmed.
"Its not feasible in terms of animal welfare issues. A lot of cattle get shifted, thousands and thousands. They're depending upon going to new properties, often for feed. If that was to be restricted then there would be a massive challenge to actually try to get feed to them in the short term," O'Connor told reporters today.
Despite the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) trying to track cattle movements for the past few months since M. Bovis was confirmed in New Zealand, O'Connor said he didn't anticipate a spike in cases following Moving Day.
"The chances are there may be some of those herds that have received animals from [infected] properties and we haven't been able to identify that. But the offset of that is having thousands and thousands of animals that would be starving because they haven't been able to get on to new property."
Moving Day, or Gypsy Day, occurs on June 1. It is the annual event when farmers take their stock to new properties, either for winter grazing or because of new sharemilking contracts.
Opposition agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy said Moving Day had already begun.
"Farmers are moving stock as we speak. What they need is certainty on the decision I believe is going to occur on Monday next week so that they can get some comfort as to what the Government is recommending they do."
Cabinet will decide on Monday whether attempts to eradicate M. Bovis should continue or whether it should move to containment instead.
There are 39 confirmed infected properties at present, with around 12,000 of 23,000 animals culled so far.
O'Connor conceded that "quite a percentage" of the culled cattle were healthy.
"There have been a lot of cows culled. They've been healthy cows but they have been part of a herd that has been identified as infected. That's the horrible reality."
MPI confirmed that police accompanied ministry officials when they executed two search warrants on farms earlier this year.
Police said the Biosecurity Act required that MPI staff were accompanied by a police officer when search warrants are executed. "The police officer takes no part in the search itself."
Police also confirmed they were not involved in the active investigation, which was being run by MPI.