M. bovis testing in beef cows

It has been almost 4 years since Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand. Not long after its diagnosis, New Zealand embarked on an ambitious eradication strategy. That in itself has caused a great deal of trauma for many farmers who have seen their herds destroyed upon detection of the disease. Here we are, nearly 4 years on, and it would appear that good progress has been made towards the eradication goal. It now gets to the hard stage, because all the low-hanging fruit has been picked and detecting the remaining pockets of disease can be difficult. The dairy farms are reasonably easy to screen as the task has been carried out with the national bulk milk testing process. Beef farms, however, are much harder because cows are seen more intermittently and samples are harder to obtain.

Yet the call has now been made for beef farms to be surveyed in order to understand if there are pockets of infection still lingering around. “Why would you do it?, you may ask. If M. bovis is found, you risk losing your herd – but there are a number of good reasons why you should consider testing:

  • The likelihood of a positive result is very low.
  • If you do have the disease, it will get picked up at some stage at the works, so it would be best to get onto it now.
  • There is a `greater industry good` factor that requires as strong a sample catchment as possible to prove freedom of disease.

What animals are eligible?

Any beef cows, beef bulls and heifers – up to 150 animals

What does it cost?

Nothing. The opportunity is to blood-test these animals at any stage, but most convenient would be when animals are in for pregnancy testing or some other procedure. At the same time, there is always the opportunity to carry out some parallel testing for trace elements, BVD or anything else you fancy. Vetlife has negotiated some good prices for these extra tests. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

So please, contact your Vetlife veterinarian to discuss this process further.

Ivan Holloway