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About the Eradication Programme

Programme partners

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is in partnership with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) to eradicate M. bovis.

The partnership is behind the 2022 M. bovis National Plan. It sets out 3 main goals:

  • to eradicate M. bovis from New Zealand
  • to reduce the impact of the disease and the eradication programme for everyone affected
  • to leave New Zealand's biosecurity system stronger.

DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers support MPI's decisions. They also recognise that this is a difficult time for the farmers involved.

The industry organisations believe that the measures are necessary to protect all New Zealand cattle farms from the disease.

Why eradicate Mycoplasma bovis

Until recently, New Zealand was one of a small number of places in the world unaffected by M. bovis. Eradicating M. bovis will support animal welfare, reduce our reliance on antibiotics, and protect our cattle industry. Allowing M. bovis to spread would cause an estimated $1.3 billion in lost productivity in the first ten years. 

Why we think we can get rid of it

M. bovis was detected in New Zealand for the first time in 2017. All the evidence suggests that the M. bovis found in New Zealand spread from a single case of the bacteria, most likely entering New Zealand in late 2015/2016.

We are tracing all cattle that have been in close contact with infected cattle and determining if they’ve been infected.

Our independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) believes that eradication is possible, based on what we currently know about M. bovis in NZ. No other country has tried to eradicate M. bovis.

How did it get here?

M. bovis could have entered New Zealand by imported:

  • live cattle
  • frozen semen
  • embryos
  • veterinary medicines
  • biological products
  • feed
  • used farm equipment
  • other live animals

It's possible that we'll never be able to conclusively establish the entry pathway, however we are investigating the movements of risk goods onto the originally affected properties. To date we have not determined conclusively the route of entry.

Why let semen and embryos into NZ?

Live cattle imports stopped in 2013.

Semen is low risk, due to a long history of safe trade and strict hygiene requirements around collection and use. There’s not enough justification to stop semen and embryo imports, but we do continuously assess the risk.

Semen has been imported for many years at the rate of around 250,000 units (straws) a season. If semen importation was a significant risk factor, we could expect to have seen a variety of strains of M. bovis and a lot more infection than we are finding.

Farmers can continue to make decisions around the use of artificial insemination (AI). AI providers have developed biosecurity protocols following the outbreak. Ask your breeding company to tell you about them.

Reports and Reviews

Reports and reviews on the M. bovis Eradication Programme can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.