LIC says it is introducing daily testing of bull semen to combat the threat of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

From September 3, each semen collection from LIC's bulls, which artificially inseminate up to 80 per cent of the national dairy herd, have been tested for M. bovis, with results confirmed before semen is distributed to farmers.

Although MPI states the risk of transmitting M. bovis from semen is extremely low, chief executive Wayne McNee said LIC was not taking anything for granted.

"Based on our testing and strict animal management to date, we're confident our bulls are clear from M. bovis. We have tested over 5000 samples from our bulls dating back to January 2017, and the disease has not been detected.

Advertisement

"However, we know the risk of infection is a still a top concern for farmers and we want to take all measures possible to safeguard our bulls and help protect the national herd."

The PCR test was highly sensitive and would detect if M. bovis was present in the semen.

LIC said it was investing close to $800,000 in changes to its business to effectively manage any risk of transmission of M. bovis. The farmer-owned co-operative said it made the decision to absorb the cost in order to avoid increasing prices for farmers this season.

The new daily testing regime has been implemented for the peak mating season when LIC artificial breeding technicians inseminate more than 100,000 cows per day.

From September through to Christmas, LIC collects semen from its elite bulls seven days a week and processes up to 5 million fresh semen straws for artificial insemination.

The daily semen testing complements LIC's recent introduction of an additional antibiotic into the semen diluent in an effort to further reduce the risk of transmitting M. bovis via semen.