The Mycoplasma bovis Programme is starting a National Beef Survey to provide additional assurance that M. bovis is not widespread in the national beef breeding and stud herd.
Plans to progress the national surveillance of the beef industry were highlighted in the latest report from the independent Technical Advisory Group, released in October 2019. Over the next 12 months, the M. bovis Programme intends to test 2,500 herds that have not previously been part of the programme.
"Results from the ongoing sampling and monitoring of incoming feedlot cattle gives us confidence the infection is not common in beef breeding herds," says the Ministry for Primary Industry's chief science advisor Dr John Roche.
"This national screening of beef cattle will allow us to determine if there is any unexpected infection in the beef industry, and, at a later date, will help provide confidence that we are free from the disease," says Dr Roche.
Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, said: "While we are confident that M. bovis is not widespread in beef breeding or stud herds in New Zealand, it is important to make sure that this is indeed the case. We know that this disease and the eradication process has a major impact on the lives of farmers, their families and communities and we thank farmers for their co-operation during the survey.
"We also want to take this opportunity to remind farmers there is still a risk of bringing infection on to farms, and all farmers need to be taking the right steps to protect their herds. NAIT compliance is a vital part of helping us achieve eradication so farmers should be tagging every animal, registering it into the system, and recording every movement between NAIT locations."
To minimise the pressure placed on farming operations, additional mustering of stock will not usually be required for this testing as sampling of beef cattle will be conducted at the same time that OSPRI takes samples from animals as part of the TBfree Programme.
Testing will use the current ELISA blood test to determine whether herds may have been exposed to M. bovis. Some farms may require additional testing to determine their status. Farms determined to be infected will be managed under the existing processes of the M. bovis Programme.
The programme has an established range of support measures, from on-farm advice, access to welfare and compensation, through to recovery expertise to help those affected get back to business.