New Zealand to kill 150000 cows to end bacterial disease

New Zealand plans to slaughter about 150,000 cows as it tries to eradicate a strain of disease-causing bacteria from the national herd.

Although many cows are expected to be killed at processing plants and be used for beef, some may have to be killed and buried on farms or in specified landfills, AP reported.

The bacterium causes illness in cattle, including udder infections, abortion, pneumonia and arthritis. Authorities insist the decision is to stop future production losses and is unrelated to food safety.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really disgusting", she said. "We have a real chance of eradication to protect our more than 20,000 dairy and beef farms, but only if we act now".

The main aim of this culling project is to protect the New Zealand economy, with milk being the countries single largest export.

Last July, Mycoplasma bovis was found in the country for the first time.

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Since the identification of the disease, near about twenty-six cows have already been slaughtered.

The decision, dubbed "phased eradication", was made collectively by the government and farming sector bodies and the estimated cost is $886 million over 10 years.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said it was believed the outbreak came from one source and that expert advice indicated it was possible to contain and eradicate it. "But the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease across our national herd".

"This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having yet a test that clearly identifies the individual animals", he said.

"Newly appointed science adviser Dr John Roche has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis".

"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". According to AP, officials indicated they won't be able to tell until the end of the year whether the mass cow killing plan will work.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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