Southland’s milk testing programme wraps up

Dairy testing aimed at tracking the spread of Mycoplasma bovis is wrapping up in Southland this week, with farmers being urged to contact their local area manager if they miss a testing date.

There are now seven properties across Southland that have been infected with cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, according to the latest stakeholder update from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) last week. 

The update comes amidst the national roll out of a milk testing programme among all dairy farms, with testing in Southland already well underway.

The programme involves testing three milk samples from every dairy farm: a bulk sample provided by every farmer's dairy processing company, and two samples from each farmers' sick cow herd.

Head of Fonterra Farm Source for Otago/Southland Mark Robinson said the second round of samples from Southland dairy farmers would be collected this week (February 14). It was important that farmers submit their samples so that MPI understood the spread of the disease, he said.

Mr Robinson said Southland farmers should contact their local area manager if they missed their sample collection date for whatever reason.

MPI senior communications advisor Joe Stockman said milk testing was already planned to take place in Southland, Otago, and South Canterbury before the decision was made to expand the testing into a national surveillance programme.

The results from Southland's testing programme should be available from early March, he said.

The disease was first identified last July when samples taken from a South Canterbury dairy herd tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis. The disease was first identified in Southland later that year across three properties in Winton. 

Now 23 properties across the country have been identifed as infected. The largest number, 11 properties, have been confirmed in South Canterbury and North Otago.

Some 4800 animals from the initially infected enterprise have been culled, but Mr Stockman said the total number of animals culled to date wasn't available at this time. 

In this week's update, MPI said it was not presently carrying out whole-herd culling, but was doing some targeted culling of select animals on a case-by-case-basis.


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