Traditional pet days at rural schools look set to be banned until the threat of Mycoplasma bovis has been removed.

Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers is asking schools to exclude all breeds of calves from their 2018 Ag Day programmes to help to minimise any possible risk of infection being transmitted between calves being transported to schools, and to avoid them coming into contact with calves that may have already contracted the disease.

Lambs and goats and other family pets can continue to be part of programmes this year and Federated Farmers hopes calves will be able to be reintroduced next year.

Principals say they are supportive of their communities.


Paengaroa School principal Bruce Lendrem said the Te Puke Agriculture club would be meeting at Pongakawa School next Tuesday to discuss the matter.

Lendrem said pet days were an important part of rural school life and included indoor and outdoor pet exhibits. They could still include all other animals, just not calves.

However, he said he would have to wait until the meeting to comment further.

Pongakawa School principal Craig Haggo said it would be premature to comment on the matter until next week's meeting but they supported their local farming community.

"It's a worrying and dangerous time for them and I have no doubt that my Board of Trustees do whatever they can to support them [farmers]," Haggo said.

He said Pongakawa, which had a large dairy farming community, would probably have the largest number of calves at their ag days out of schools around the Western Bay of Plenty and he was interested to find out the formal view on the matter next week.

Kaharoa School acting principal Rose Powley said the school had already decided not to have calves at pet day because it was "the right thing to do".

"We are taking a proactive approach. Students can still take along lambs, kids and chickens."


She said the school, which has 189 pupils, only hosted one pet day a year, at the end of the first week in term four.

"With many families in the farming community, and people aware of the M. bovis issue via the media, it became apparent early on that would be a problem. We discussed it at many levels, with staff and parents, the board and PTA, and parents who are vets. We had a lot of advice."

Powley said it was a small and responsible measure that could make a big difference in the long term.

"The students absolutely understand. A lot already know about the problems with M. bovis."