With 'Moving Day' just around the corner (June 1), it's a good time for farmers to review their biosecurity practices while moving their animals.
"Good planning and communication can help ensure a smooth Moving Day," says Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme director Simon Andrew.
"Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of farmers and the wider agricultural sector, we have made good progress toward eradicating M. bovis since it was first detected in New Zealand in 2017. We are now aiming to move from delimiting – controlling the last known pockets of M. bovis – to gathering negative test result data to support a statement of provisional absence of M. bovis.
"Good biosecurity practices remain essential to fighting this disease. If left unchecked, the disease could have cost industry an estimated $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns."
Mr Andrew says as well as taking steps to stay infection-free, farmers must record all movements in NAIT – the National Animal Identification Tracing system.
"The main way M. bovis spreads is when infected cattle are introduced into, or have close and ongoing contact with, an uninfected herd. Likewise, when the disease is detected, the rapid detection of infected herds is critical."
Keeping up with NAIT requirements of tagging, registering, and recording the movements of stock is important but equally important is to do the same for all incoming cattle. As well as NAIT, farmers should consider other steps to stay infection free. Talk with veterinarians, DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand about ways to reduce the risk of M. bovis and build those into biosecurity plans and animal health plans.
Good biosecurity practices
- Run cattle in management units that don't mix. Minimise introductions and keep any introductions low risk (for example, keep mobs separate for their duration on grazing blocks).
- Secure boundaries through fencing. Make sure nose-to-nose contact is not possible between cattle held on neighbouring properties.
- Keep NAIT updated. NAIT is a legal requirement and key to good biosecurity, as it makes it easier and faster to trace animals. More information on NAIT requirements over Moving Day – OSPRI
Remember the important NAIT timeframes to ensure you remain compliant.
- Ensure any equipment or biological products you bring on-farm are M. bovis free. Make sure equipment (such as borrowed milk feeding equipment) is clean and disinfected prior to use on your property. Avoid trading colostrum and milk – the lowest risk for spread of M. bovis is calf milk replacer. Make sure donor bulls have been tested for M. bovis and if you use artificial insemination ask your semen supplier what assurance they can provide that the semen is free of M. bovis.
These good on-farm biosecurity practices that help to control the spread of M. bovis will also help limit the spread of other diseases as well.
Key contacts for farmers
If you have any questions about Moving Day, contact your farm systems manager or our liaison team on 0800 00 83 33 or email Mbovis_Liaison@mpi.govt.nz
- NAIT (OSPRI website): 0800 48 24 63
- DairyNZ: 0800 43 24 79 69
- Beef + Lamb New Zealand: 0800 23 33 52
- Federated Farmers: 0800 32 76 46