Rural A&P shows the latest victim of Mycoplasma bovis

Several A&P shows are abandoning their cattle competitions this year, out of fear they will spread Mycoplasma bovis.

The disease continues to wreak havoc on rural communities, with 270 properties under regulatory control.

For decades, Royal Agricultural Society Dairy Chairman Peter Gilbert and his family have entered their cattle into competitions across Canterbury.

This year it comes with a big risk, he says.

"The fear of eradication, or the fear of losing your whole herd, is the big reason that people aren't showing and shows are cancelling."

With Mycoplasma bovis now confirmed on at least 40 farms across the country, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has advised all A&P shows to take extra care around cattle.

Seven shows have already removed cattle from their schedules with the biggest, in Canterbury and Hawke's Bay, still considering a ban.

Dairy farmer Nick Gilbert says it could mean moving to Australia.

"If it does get cancelled for the next three or four years, we've talked about moving to Aussie, look at selling up here and going to Aussie where the showing's very competitive," he says.

There are regulatory controls on around 270 properties, down from a peak of 354 in May. However, while the risk of contamination is low, it can't be ruled out completely.

MPI response director Geoff Gwyn says it could be problematic if herds mix.

"It's principally spread by close animal contact and prolonged animal contact - so clearly, if you have herds mixing, you have that potential," he says.

Peter Gilbert oversees a number of shows and believes there are ways to keep it safe, including by preventing cows from touching.

However the question remains over how many exhibitors will risk their blood lines going back to the 1900s.

"I know you get compensation, but you can't replace some of that stuff that's been done for 100 years really," says Mr Gilbert.

Cattle competitions: the latest victim of Mycoplamsa bovis.