For the first time in the 176-year history of the Bay of Islands show, there will be no beef or dairy stock exhibited as authorities try to eradicate the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The case is the same for Whangarei summer show, which has taken cattle off the list for the first time in 138 years.

Previous exhibitors have been contacted and informed to keep their stock away this year as the show committees increased biosecurity precautions in support of MPI and Bio-security New Zealand.

The fallout has also filtered down to grass roots level and calves have been banned from calf club days at Northland schools.

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Paparoa 10-year-old Arjan Pedersen takes a break with calf Gertrude at the 171st Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show. There will be no calves this year.
Paparoa 10-year-old Arjan Pedersen takes a break with calf Gertrude at the 171st Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show. There will be no calves this year.

A Northland property infected with M. bovis is still under quarantine lockdown to prevent the disease from spreading to neighbouring farms after the discovery in late August.

The beef herd of 50 on the Kaipara farm is yet to be culled and the Ministry of Primary Industries said they would be killed at a time best suited to the farm owner.

Bay of Islands Pastoral & Industrial Show secretary Ann Clarke said exhibitors were canvassed and most were not prepared to take the risk and show their stock.

"We have breeders from big studs that come every year but they are just not prepared to take the risk and jeopardise their studs with bloodlines that go back decades."

It has also meant the cancellation of the calf club competition, but Clarke anticipated a boom in the pet lamb division that was going ahead for the November show.

She said there would be rural-focused competitions for the young exhibitors as well.

Okaihau farmer Malcolm Hutchings with the royal-ribbon-winning champion animal of the show, Lodore Vals Nella. However, this year there will be no dairy or beef cattle on show. Photo / File
Okaihau farmer Malcolm Hutchings with the royal-ribbon-winning champion animal of the show, Lodore Vals Nella. However, this year there will be no dairy or beef cattle on show. Photo / File

Whangarei Agricultural and Pastoral Society chief executive Chris Mason was disappointed there would be no cattle on show on December 1 at Barge Park, but believed the welfare of the animals and farmers' business should take priority.

"It is far more important to protect the livelihood of our exhibitors," Mason said.

"We just want to take this opportunity to see if they can get rid of it."

The only bovine presence at the Whangārei show this year will be the six dairy animals in the stock judging competition and the six dairy cows in the Fresha Valley Suzie Moo show.

Precautions will be taken to ensure there is no potential spread of the bacterial disease.

Although the usual 170 head of cattle would not be at the show, sheep would make a much stronger appearance; more than 150 sheep of 12 different breeds are expected.

The A&P interschool calf club competition will take place in a different manner than usual - virtual projects in the form of 30-second videos and cardboard presentations.

Ruakākā School pupils Aylee Kay, 7, and Brennan Kay, 11, have swapped calves for lambs for the school pet day thanks to the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis. Photo/ Michael Cunningham
Ruakākā School pupils Aylee Kay, 7, and Brennan Kay, 11, have swapped calves for lambs for the school pet day thanks to the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis. Photo/ Michael Cunningham

Springfield dairy farmer David Kay said his two children, Brennan, 11, and Aylee, 7, were among those at Ruakākā School who had swapped calves for lambs.

Kay said the siblings didn't know much about sheep, but had been learning about them from the neighbour who gave them the orphan lambs.

Aylee said she was kind of sad, but kind of happy about not being able to take a calf.
"It gives us cow farmers a chance to try something different."

An MPI spokesperson while the risk was relatively low, it was a critical phase for tracking down and eradicating M. bovis and unnecessary mixing of animals at events like calf days should be avoided.

"If schools and clubs do go ahead with events, ensure you have consulted with your communities and taken all sensible precautions."