Farmers were urged to take greater precautions to protect their farms against the spread of Mycloplasma bovis during an information roadshow last Thursday.

A crowd of more than 150 people packed out the Toko Hall for the event where representatives from Rural Support Trust, Dairy NZ, Federated Farmers as well as veterinarians spoke.

More than 1000 people attended a series of six meetings held on the issue across Taranaki last week.

It's a huge challenge ahead of us to eradicate this.

The session was open to questions at the end where farmers expressed concerns around confusing information around the issue.


Dairy NZ representative Rob Brazendale said the session was not a debate or laying blame but provided information on what farmers can do to protect their businesses.

Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntyre told the meeting he supported the Government's stance on the issue.

"Because I think it's a very achievable thing at this stage of the infection."

He said the fact that testing was not 100 perfect made it hard and the fact that there were "silent cows" that could carry and spread it made things harder.

"It's a huge challenge ahead of us to eradicate this."

He says there are 12 to 14 farms in Taranaki that were potentially infected as they have been connected in a third or fourth hand way from infected cow making them "low risk".

Concern was expressed by the crowd that these farms are not on restricted movement and whether the farmers had actually been notified that their herds were under surveillance.

Donald told the Stratford Press there is conflicting information around this and he isn't getting any answers from MPI on whether farmers knew if their stock were low risk.


He says there's a lot of speculation on social media and people need to keep it in perspective. "We still have to be able to keep farming but need to think about our practices and whether they suit our risk profile."

Rob said farmers did not have to legally say if they were under surveillance but morally had an obligation to.

He said when farmers buy stock they need to satisfy themselves by getting written declarations on cow health from the seller.

Farmers were urged to make sure they comply with the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) requirements to ensure all movements of stock are recorded.

Rob said farmers need to be vigilant with their biosecurity rules and outlined measures farmers should take to decrease the risk of spreading the disease.

He said it's important to talk with stock transporters about clean trucks for transportation.

Other things farmers were urged to do were preventing nose to nose contact between stock across fences, keeping newly arrived animals separate from resident animals and having one main access to the farm, closing off alternative entry points.

Farmers should also consider other risks such as roadside grazing, road crossings, effluent management and have rules around raw milk arriving on the farm for calf and lamb rearing.

Taranaki Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Marcia Paurini spoke at the meetings and said there was a lot of stress, fear and paranoia around the disease because there's a lot of unknowns about M. bovis.

She had heard stories of children being bullied at school as well as farmers suffering from rumours circulating about their herds. She urged people to also check on their neighbours and to make contact with the trust if they were suffering with stress.