'Every farmer in New Zealand has to play their part': M bovis warning for annual 'moving day'

As the farming sector's annual 'Moving Day' gets underway, farmers are being reminded about the extra significance of the day with the presence of M bovis in New Zealand.

June 1 signals the season when many sharemilkers are on the move, and farmers are shifting stock to winter grazing pasture.

With authorities trying to eradicate M bovis, biosecurity officials said farmers should make sure they're following best practice biosecurity while moving their animals.

"Moving Day is an important time in the rural calendar and we want it to be as stress-free as possible," said M bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn. 

"But as the effort to eradicate M bovis continues, it's vital that farmers recognise there's a risk of spreading the disease," he said.

"As well as taking steps to stay infection-free, farmers must record all movements in NAIT - the National Animal Identification Tracing system."

While properties under movement controls generally can't shift cattle, Gwyn said there were exceptions that affected farmers should discuss with their ICP (incident control point) manager if they need to move stock.

Farms that are under 'active surveillance' can move animals (noting that the testing will continue). 

Farmers that need to move animals that are under active surveillance can get support from the M bovis Programme, and its partners DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, as well as Federated Farmers. 

He said the main way M bovis spreads is when infected cattle are introduced into, or have close and ongoing contact with, an uninfected herd.

"It's important to farmers to have good conversations with their graziers about how biosecurity is going to be managed while their animals are off the main farm, and how mobs will be kept separate."

"The last thing anyone wants is for M bovis to spread further and infect more cattle."

Geoff Gwyn said it was vital that farmers recognise there's a risk of spreading the disease.
Geoff Gwyn said it was vital that farmers recognise there's a risk of spreading the disease. Photo credit: Newshub

It was revealed earlier this week that almost 8000 dairy farming locations had yet to re-register with the NAIT scheme ahead of Moving Day as required.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor called on farmers to step up and take responsibility. 

"This is not just a job for MPI - every farmer in New Zealand has to play their part.

We've ramped up our compliance activities and those who don't comply will face the music," he said.

Meanwhile the latest update from MPI said 196 properties were under a Notice of Direction, while 512 were under Active Surveillance.

MPI's Biosecurity tips for Moving Day

  • Have a good chat with your grazier about their biosecurity measures, and how they keep different mobs apart. And remember that you can ask if the property has been under any restrictions, or had testing done.
  • Make sure you complete all your NAIT movement recordings. It'll help to strengthen the system which helps us to trace and eradicate Mycoplasma bovis from NZ.
  • Keep your cattle apart from other animals on the farm for the first seven to ten days after moving them to a new property and check their health regularly.
  • If you're a sharemilker or contract milker, buy cattle from as few sources as possible. Find out about the source farms and ask for any test results from those farms. Clean and dry all equipment and machinery before you take it onto the new farm.
  • Find out if stock on the farm has mingled with any other cattle over the past year, including during wintering. If so, ask for information (including any test results) about the farms those cattle have come from.