A Canterbury couple say they have had to euthanise two cows suspected of having mycoplasma bovis after they were quarantined in poor conditions.
The farmers say the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) locked down the herd in an area with poor water supply and inadequate fencing, leading to sickness and injury for many of the cows.
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The herd was only supposed to be located at the property for winter grazing, however when movement restrictions were introduced in October last year, the herd had to remain there over summer.
"They were locked down there when we warned them there was no fencing, so we could not wean calves down there and there was no water supply," herd owner Amanda Ferguson told Newshub.
The Fergusons say that left them with two major problems: cows without enough water and calves trying to feed from thirsty adult cows.
The couple claim one cow had to be shot after getting caught in a fence trying to get water and another was put down after injuring itself while being chased by bull calves.
However, MPI says it did everything it could to ensure the welfare of both the animals and the farmers.
"While this situation did present difficulties, it was essential that these animals were not moved, to prevent the spread of M Bovis," Geoff Gwyn, the man in charge of managing the disease outbreak, told Newshub.
"No, it's not an ideal situation, but I also understand from the Ferguson's perspective they would like things to happen instantly. That's not always possible."
MPI accepts there was the risk of a water shortage but doesn't think any animals didn't have enough and they took just one month to provide a solution to the problem.
"That block was plumbed. Water was supplied, feed was supplied and it was re-fenced at MPI's expense," Gwyn added.
MPI says the Fergusons proposed another block where the animals could be moved, but that was deemed unsuitable - something the Ferguson's dispute.