Concern about cattle disease in Hawke’s Bay
PHOTO: WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Manawatū and Tararua dairy farmers are getting anxious about future outbreaks of Mycoplasma bovis after the disease was confirmed in Hawke’s Bay.
Farmers are looking more closely at the source of their feed supplies and where they graze their young stock.
Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Murray Holdaway said he hoped the Ministry for Primary Industries would be able to tell farmers more in the coming weeks.
“Not as many cows go to [Hawke’s Bay] as there used to be six to eight years ago, but it is always an alternative if things get really tight on the feed front, here.”
“Finding Mycoplasma bovis in Hawke’s Bay is an issue for local farmers, but I wouldn’t say it is a huge issue yet. The issue at the moment is really around the uncertainty,” Holdaway said.
He said the disease was new to all dairy farmers and they needed to know more.
“How it got into New Zealand is still uncertain. Farmers are asking should they buy feed from Hawke’s Bay, should they look for grazing up there, can it be transmitted in or on stock trucks from previous loads. We want to know all those things.”
Holdaway said farmers were talking about the disease risk.
“But I don’t think the reality of the issue will hit local farmers until it’s next door and I also think farmers have been so preoccupied dealing with the extreme weather for so long this issue has been put into the background.”
Mycoplasma bovis is a common cattle disease in overseas dairy countries, but had not been detected in New Zealand until July last year. Since then it has spread to nine farms in South Canterbury, three in Southland, one in Ashburton and one in Hawke’s Bay.
It is not considered a risk to human health to eat meat from animals that have been infected by the disease.
On a positive note, there would be a lot of dairy farmers in the region who would be sleeping a little more comfortably during the past few nights, after rain, he said. They would be looking ahead to the autumn with some hope of minimising production losses for the season.
“They will also be hoping that the Fonterra announcement regarding the expected reduction in production levels for New Zealand will at least hold the payout at the current level.
“Also because this is still early in our summer, if we now have a normal January and February, then the relief from the recent rain may be short lived. We need follow-up rain.”
He said there was still the problem of a shortage of supplements being made in preparation for the winter, and the rain was unlikely to allow that to be rectified.
“So farmers and their advisors are still going to need to plan well in advance in order to get through the winter with sufficient feed and good cow condition”.