New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows in record cull

New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows in record cull

The bacteria, Mycoplasma bovis, can cause cows to develop ailments such as mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis.

"Today's decision to eradicate 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", Ardern said in a statement. The infection causes several diseases in the cows that can spread quickly. Until July New Zealand was one of only two major OECD dairying countries that were free of the disease.

The disease causes a painful and untreatable illness in cattle and Damien O'Connor, agriculture and biosecurity minister, says there's only one shot to eradicate it.

It has been made clear by the officials that all the cows belonging to an infected farm will be killed even if they are healthy.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really ugly", said Katie Milne, the organisation's president.

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Federated Farmers, an advocacy organisation, said there were some farmers who opposed the cull but authorities needed to try to address the bacteria before it was too late.

A program to slaughter some 26,000 cattle is already underway. They support farmers with information and advice on the practical aspects of the controls.

New Zealand is now home to around 10 million cows, two-thirds of which are dairy cows. The dairy herd of the country reportedly has around 6.6 million cows.

Mycoplasma bovis was first observed in the cows of South Island only but gradually it has spread up to the North Island also in the current year. They say all the infections found so far can be traced back to a single farm, and that the bacteria likely arrived in New Zealand 18 months before they were first identified.

An investigation into how Mycoplasma bovis got into the country is still underway. They say numerous cows will be slaughtered at processing plants and used for beef, but some cows will have to be killed and buried on the farms or dumped in approved landfills. It will only be clear by the end of year if the culling of the cows is working.

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