Tararua farmers have been warned to take what they hear about mycoplasma bovis in the region with a pinch of salt.

The latest outbreak was found on government-owned Rangedale farm at Pori, east of Pahiatua seven days ago, leading to a need for the entire herd of 900 cattle with a variety of ages to be slaughtered.

On Tuesday night, a meeting was organised by Jane Tylee of Rural Trust Support and Rachael Fouhy, senior veterinarian from Tararua Vets after receiving calls from farmers concerned about M Bovis in the district.

: Rachael Fouhy (senior veterinarian, Tararua Vets), Emil Murphy (MPI) and Jane Tylee (Rural Support Trust) at the Makuri farmers' support meeting.
: Rachael Fouhy (senior veterinarian, Tararua Vets), Emil Murphy (MPI) and Jane Tylee (Rural Support Trust) at the Makuri farmers' support meeting.

"We wanted them to receive the same information, to avoid mistrust and mistruths, to be able to ask questions and to be supported by Jane and myself," Fouhy said.


"Landcorp, which operates Rangedale farm, came along with three representatives and were very open about what was happening on the property."

Emil Murphy from MPI talked about the disease and how it spread.

"The biggest risk is young calves getting it from raw milk from infected cows. A lot of our tracing has been where calves have come from - it's been our main focus. It can be spread by nose to nose contact," he said.

Fouhy said the testing process for animals normally resulted in a vet getting an immediate answer from a blood test.

"With M Bovis it can hide in the body and give false results. It needs to be tested repeatedly over lots of animals to get a secure answer. This has been the process followed at Rangedale," she said.

At a parliamentary briefing on Thursday, head of Biosecurity New Zealand Roger Smith also spoke on the mycoplasma bovis rise.

The number of properties in New Zealand under control has leapt from 129 to 299 in just six days.

There were 38 infected properties now with two more found on Thursday morning in Oamaru and Southland.


Another 40 properties were highly likely to become infected.

It was explained that 80 per cent of farmers would recieve compensation from which the value of the stock minus meat company payments from slaughtering is applied.

Applications had to be done correctly and could be met within 48 hours or up to 4 months if the paperwork is not correct. Up to 22,000 cattle could be slaughtered nationally.

"Mental health is a big issue. Farmers can be isolated and not receive the same information. They're in a situation of uncertainty," Fouhy said.

"After the meeting the feedback was that farmers understood the risk a lot better and it was a lot less than they first thought.

"There was some panic going around initially but after the meeting farmers felt more secure as to what the future holds.

"I would like to see some firm decisions made by the government in the next four weeks about where they are going to go with this. Are they going to call it containment or eradication or say 'this is what we are going to do for the next three years and phase it out?'"

Tararua district mayor Tracey Collis has a take on biosecurity.

"One of the take home points from the meeting at Makuri for me is around vehicles transferring mud, using the phrase 'clean on - clean off' so when a contractor comes onto the property the vehicle is clean, when they leave it is clean.

It's practised in the organic/viticulture industry, ensuring nothing is transferred between properties. Another point gleaned was that limestone on tracks is really good because its hard for bacteria to survive natively in alkakine conditions.

MP for Wairarapa, Alastair Scott, was concerned about a lack of response, contact and communication with neighbouring farms to Rangedale.

"There should be personal contact with the bordering farmers . . . making sure they are okay," he said.

Anyone with concerns about M Bovis could contact Rachael Fouhy on 376 8046 or Jane Tylee on 376 3825.