Could both be right?

The Ministry of Primary Industries is frustrated with farmers’ response to Mycoplasma bovis:

Farmers are being told to keep better records of livestock movements.

It follows another confirmed case of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, this time on an Ashburton farm.

The disease has been found on 14 farms, all but one are in the South Island.

Ministry for Primary Industries response incident controller David Yard said farmers have a poor record of compliance with the national livestock tracing scheme.

He said that’s making for a lengthy search for the disease on other properties.

“It’s proving extremely challenging for us to identify where all the animal movements are being made so we have to go and interview every farmer in detail to see if they can recall who they sold animals to and who they received.” . . 

MPI is frustrated with farmers and the farmer on whose property Mycoplasma bovis was first identified is frustrated with MPI:

. . .  Glenavy dairy farmer Aad van Leeuwen, who owns the farms where the disease was first identified in New Zealand – and has had 4000 cattle culled – said he believed it had been in the country for years.

After going to the United States to learn about the disease, which was prevalent in many other countries, he advised the ministry four months ago to adopt a rigorous nationwide bulk milk testing programme to determine how widespread it was.

”It’s made out to be such a terrible thing, but it’s very, very manageable; it’s been here for a long time already; it is worldwide,” he said. ”So, instead of ripping communities apart, sending people broke … I would say this madness needs to stop.

”It was only before Christmas that they were trying to link all these farms to us, which is absolute rubbish. There’s no link whatsoever to us. . .

‘Yesterday, MPI response incident controller David Yard told the Otago Daily Times the scheme ”if used effectively” was ”the most useful tool to identify where the disease ‘could’ be”. Yet he said the latest case was identified through bulk milk testing.

”MPI is working with the dairy industry to extend this bulk milk testing … nationally.”

It’s possible that both are right.

There are problems with the NAIT scheme. Not all farmers are recording animal movements promptly and correctly and the grapevine says inaccuracies and incomplete records aren’t only at the farmers’ end.

But it is also possible that Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for years and it is only because a vet went further in searching that it was identified on van Leeuwen’s farms.

Testing animals isn’t 100% reliable, it can result in false negatives. Testing  milk is a much better way to identify infected stock and it needs to be done nation-wide.

That’s the best way of establishing the extent of the disease and getting rid of it.

Bulk testing of milk could also settle the question of where the disease came from and how wide-spread it is.

 

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2 Responses to Could both be right?

  1. Gravedodger says:

    Milk testing the answer,maybe, maybe not.
    My information has discovered infection amongst young stock that include bull beef that will never be milked but are widely traded as feed and normal trading dictate.
    A dairy beef bull can have many locations along its usual eighteen months from dairy farm to meatworks.

  2. Mr E says:

    IMO both are right. There should be multiple tools used to identify infected properties.

    Early when the infection was thought to be a localised infection NAIT should have helped to eliminate it.

    Now it seems more widespread options like bulk milk testing should be used.

    But Rome was not built in a day. NAIT has more than a day to be built and work effectively. Bulk milk testing has not.

    But NAIT is still a critical tool in managing/eliminating and farmers should be encouraged to sort out their records as best they can.

    I am quite sure we will never know where this disease came from with any acceptable level of certainty. Bulk milk testing will do little change that.

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