New Zealand Plans To Kill 150,000 Cows

New Zealand, the world's biggest dairy exporter, will spend more than NZ$880 million ($610 million) in a bid to eradicate the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

The disease was discovered in July past year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected.

The slaughtered cattle may be used for beef, or buried on farms or in landfill.

Found in Europe and the US, the bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases.

Mycoplasma Bovis has been found on about 40 farms so far but the government believes 192 properties will eventually be involved in the cull.

The government said it would bear around two-thirds of the cost, while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest.

The Mycoplasma bovis was reported in New Zealand for the first time in July, 2017.

"Today's decision to eradicate the disease is driven by the government's desire to protect the national herd from the disease and protect the base of our economy - the farming sector", she said. The cost of the eradication program is estimated at 886 million New Zealand dollars ($616 million) over ten years.

The ambitious plan will see 126,000 cattle slaughtered on top of the 26,000 already killed or earmarked for death. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.

Around 150,000 cows will have to be culled, and Walling thinks it is possible that they could eradicate the disease.

"This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having yet a test that clearly identifies the individual animals", he said.

"He will provide strategic science advice across MPI and his first task will be to head up a new Mycoplasma bovis Science Strategic Advisory Group".

In Ashburton, some farmers are anxious that eradicating Mycoplasma bovis will disproportionately hurt their herds through culling. According to AP, officials indicated they won't be able to tell until the end of the year whether the mass cow killing plan will work.

  • Aubrey Nash