Lamb and calf days are part of the fabric of rural life in Tararua but, until the threat of Mycoplasma bovis has been removed, they are likely to be consigned to history.

"Both DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand are recommending these events don't go ahead because of the risk factor and farmers should probably follow their own industry recommendations," National MP for Wairarapa Alastair Scott said.

Abbey Ross-Veale, then 7, and her calf Julie snuggle up after a hectic day at the lamb and calf day at the Dannevirke A&P Showgrounds in 2014.
Abbey Ross-Veale, then 7, and her calf Julie snuggle up after a hectic day at the lamb and calf day at the Dannevirke A&P Showgrounds in 2014.

Tararua District Mayor and dairy farmer Tracey Collis said it was sensible to avoid any risk.

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"Of course, some children really live for lamb and calf days," she said.

"My own children showed their calves, but how organisers of lamb and calf days could limit contact . . ."

Collis said schools wanting to hold these events would have to be very careful to mitigate risk.

"It's not impossible, but I think we have to put lamb and calf days on hold while we are still in the eradication process for Mycoplasma bovis."

Industry representative Tony Haslett, Fonterra's area manager for Hawke's Bay, agreed.

"Biosecurity is the number one risk to New Zealand's pastoral farming industry and anything practical that can be done, particularly within our rural communities, to reduce the risk of disease spread [such as M. bovis], should be supported where practicable."

The Ministry for Primary Industries said it didn't want to be a party pooper, but recommended schools think carefully about postponing calf days this year because of the mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

Thirty-six farms across New Zealand were infected with the disease, including one in Tararua. On May 28, the Government decided to cull infected stock to try to eradicate the disease.

The culling programme was expected to take up to two years.

If schools did go ahead with calf days, there were some commonsense steps MPI recommended to help minimise risk of passing on the disease.

MPI has produced an online guide, Minimising the risks from mycoplasma bovis at cattle shows and events, which recommended denying entry to animals without a NAIT tag, ensuring stalls were cleaned out before putting cattle in them and after they were removed, and providing animals with individual water and not allowing them to drink from shared troughs.