Encouraging results from Mycoplasma bovis milk testing

Authorities working to get rid of Mycoplasma bovis (M bovis) are encouraged by the results so far of nationwide bulk milk testing.

Around three quarters of testing has been completed, and only three farms have been confirmed with the disease.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) M bovis Director Geoff Gwyn said all three properties were already part of the tracing programme.

"They all have previously known links to the disease with one of these properties under surveillance and the other two were about to go under surveillance," he said.

Under the testing programme, milk samples from every New Zealand dairy farm are being taken shortly after calving, when cows are most likely to be shedding the bacterium.

For each farm, the first sample was collected around four weeks from the start of milk supply. Samples are then collected every two weeks, with a total of six samples from each farm.

To date, more than 51,000 of the approximately 70,000 tests have been completed.

Nearly all farms have had three rounds of testing and around 10,000 farms have had four rounds. About 1500 farms have completed all six rounds.

"The fact that we have confirmed M bovis on only three farms, and that all three of them were already on our radar, is encouraging," said Mr Gwyn.

 "While this remains an extremely difficult time for affected farmers, and we still have a lot of work to do, I'm confident we are on the right path in terms of tracking down the disease and eradicating it from New Zealand," he said.

Full results from the bulk milk testing are expected to be delivered to the majority of farmers in the North and South Islands in early December.