Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

New Zealand plans to slaughter 100,000 cows to eliminate Mycoplasma

New Zealand plans to slaughter 100,000 cows to eliminate Mycoplasma

Despite initially being contained to farms in the South Island, the disease has continued to spread and reached the North Island earlier this year.

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

The country is trying to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that causes mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis in cows.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is announcing the government's decision at Federated Farmers' headquarters in Wellington.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls", she said. 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.

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


New Zealand's dairy sector contributes about NZ$7.8 billion annually to the country's gross domestic product and accounts for around a fifth of the country's exports. The cost of the eradication program is estimated at 886 million New Zealand dollars ($616 million) over ten years.

Bloomberg reported that officials expect to know by the end of the year whether or not the mission to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is working.

The slaughter represents only a fraction of New Zealand stock, a herd of 10 million cattle in more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor admitted that most of the cows to be culled are healthy.

Together with farming leaders, the government has agreed to attempt the eradication of Mycoplasma bovis to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

"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".

Like this: