April and May are the months when cows start to go off farm and on to grazing blocks or to new farms. Most go by truck but some walk down the road.

Walking down a country road behind a mob of cows is a nice way to spend a day. I have done it. What I found, though, is that these cows greet all their neighbours' stock, often nose to nose, over the fence. While it's good to be social, it's not great for biosecurity.

With the New Zealand dairy sector aiming to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, it's a good idea to curb these social calls, no matter where you farm.

One way is to contact all those farmers whose paddocks face the road to let them know you will be walking cattle past. If you give them the details, they will be able to shift their stock away from these paddocks, or at least run a hot wire 2-3 metres inside the boundary.


It's a good idea to let them know when you have completed the job, too, so that they can revert to normal practice.

Having at least two people managing stock as they walk down the road enables extra control. The one at the front will be able to spot that open gate, broken fence or nosy stock and quickly take action. Having lots of electric fence standards (aka pig tails) and tape are often crucial tools during this walk to greener pastures.

The risk of contracting M. bovis during these brief encounters is extremely low and it's not likely that any of the farms you pass are infected with it either, but this precaution should give all peace of mind. Also, it's not just about this particular organism, but also about good practice

Don't forget to NAIT tag your cows and register movements.

Read more on this page of the MPI website: mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/mycoplasma-bovis/