M bovis causes big change for season's first A&P show

The first A&P Show of the season went ahead on Saturday  in Canterbury with one glaring omission - no cattle to be seen.

The Ellesmere Show is one of many rural A&P Shows expected to not show any cattle this year, all in an attempt to stop the further spread of Mycoplasma bovis.

The Canterbury area has had more farms infected by M bovis than anywhere in the country, and show organisers decided to eliminate any risk of spreading the disease by leaving all cows at home.

Ellesmere Show President Trevor Hobson said it was a difficult time for those affected.

"If people have got it and are going to have all their cattle slaughtered, it's a devastating loss to them as some people have been breeding, had the same blood lines for 100 years and it's too big a risk to have these things spread unneccessarily," he said.

The show is the biggest one-day show in the Southern Hemisphere, and it's the first time in 148 years they've held it with no cattle.

Farmers in the area, like Hamish Miller, knew it was the only option.

"I think the breeders understood, and I think the exhibitors understood, there was a fair bit at stake - more than just a few show ribbons," he said.

No country has successfully eradicated M bovis, but there's hope that the Government's decision to slaughter all infected cattle will work. 

Thousands still turned out to the show, and most punters didn't seem to care or really notice the missing cows.

Show Cattle Convenor Ian Fleming is hoping even if eradication isn't successful, they can bring cattle back to rural shows.

"I can see cattle back here next year but we need to have guidelines from MPI [the Ministry of Primary Industries] to go ahead," he said.