New Zealand orders culling of 1.26 lakh cows

New Zealand orders culling of 1.26 lakh cows

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

The disease was discovered in July past year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected.

"We do believe we are taking it on at a point that it is possible to eradicate and more than 99 percent of farms don't have it and we want to protect them from having it". Though the bacteria poses no threats to food safety, it does cause production losses, as infected cows tend to develop mastitis, severe pneumonia, arthritis and respiratory issues.

Announcing the largest cull in the nation's history yesterday, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said that while she sympathised with farmers, the government had "one shot" at eliminating the disease.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really disgusting", said Katie Milne, the organisation's president.

Eradication has meant the culling of thousands of cows, especially in the dairy industry.

The cows will be killed in phases and the first phase will kill around 26,000 cows, process for which is already underway.

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. The country will spend 886 million New Zealand dollars (Rs 4,150 crore) over two years on the effort to eradicate the disease. Mycoplasma bovis was first observed in the cows of South Island only but gradually it has spread up to the North Island also in the current year. "But the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease across our national herd".

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

An investigation into how Mycoplasma bovis got into the country is still underway.

Officials say they should know by the end of the year whether the eradication plan is working.

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