21 Nov 2017

Farmers anxious disease still not contained

4:41 pm on 21 November 2017

Farmers are back on high alert and feeling anxious over the cattle disease outbreak.

Cow beef cattle generic

Farmers are anxious the mycoplasma bovis disease has not been contained and could spread further. Photo: 123RF

The disease mycoplasma bovis was first discovered in July, and has so far been found on eight farms in South Canterbury and North Otago.

Sharemilker Leo Bensegues told a public meeting in Morven last night that his herd is the latest farm to be infected, which was confirmed by the ministry last week.

Federated Farmers dairy chair for South Canterbury, Ryan O'Sullivan, said the atmosphere of this meeting was quite different to previous ones.

"The mood last night was a little bit more anxious given that there's been another couple of properties external to the Van Leeuwen Group who have contracted the disease," he said.

"A bit more anxious that this thing is not yet contained and it could spread further."

Many of the farmers' questions were around the protocols for the restricted farms in terms of people, vehicle, and animal movements, Mr O'Sullivan said.

"Farmers wanted some reassurance that those properties were locked down and protocols were being followed."

There was also a discussion around buffer zones for properties, he said.

"Up until now the suggestion of a 1.5m buffer fence inside farm boundaries has been very much a voluntary thing ... but quite a bit of the discussion centred on whether there should be more of that going on and enforcement of it by MPI."

A vet from the district told the meeting that he was worried that farmers relaxed after the ministry said it was cautiously optimistic that the disease was controlled, Mr O'Sullivan said.

"Just the on-farm biosecurity measure, such as having a trough to wash, shows for contractors, AI technicians, and vets, some of those protocols have slipped.

"People have relaxed a little bit and the message was last night that it's too early to relax... While [the disease is] contained seemingly within that district, at this stage it's certainly not within the original properties any longer."

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