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National Beef and Drystock Cattle Surveillance

How the M. bovis Programme works

The M. bovis National Beef and Drystock Cattle Surveillance is a comprehensive national surveillance programme to assess the extent of the M. bovis infection in the New Zealand beef sector. It involves:

  • a national beef survey
  • sampling at meatworks
  • feedlot testing

So far, the findings indicate that M. bovis is not widespread in beef and drystock properties. National Beef and Drystock Cattle Surveillance will also be crucial in a “proving absence” phase once M. bovis is eradicated to provide confidence that New Zealand is free from the disease.

How are properties in the National Beef Survey selected for screening?

Herds are not being tested because we think they are infected.

The National Beef Survey is a risk-based surveillance, capturing properties across New Zealand and covering all production types.

Sampling is more intense in regions and production types that historically have had a higher incidence of links to infected properties.

How does testing work?

Cattle on beef and dry stock properties will be blood sampled during routine farm management procedures and tested for M. bovis. Veterinary practices will contact farms to arrange a suitable time for a sampling visit to occur ideally when other management procedures are underway.

Blood samples will be collected by veterinarians and veterinary technicians, coordinated by SVS Laboratories.

A single sample of blood will be taken from between 25 and 150 cattle that are yarded for a routine farm management procedure (pregnancy testing, drenching, vaccinating etc). Approximately 10ml of blood should be collected from the tail vein of each eligible cow.

How will the samples be tested?

All samples will be tested using a M. bovis ELISA test. This test determines the presence of antibodies to M. bovis.

When will results be available?

We aim to provide results within 14 business days of samples being taken. These will be reported for the group of cattle sampled and are provided by email to the tested property.

The National Beef Survey is a screening test, not a final result. While most farms aren’t expected to return a positive result, some herds will require further testing to confirm their infection status.

If the blood results indicate further testing is required to confirm whether infection is present or not.

Feedlot testing

Feedlot testing of incoming cattle will provide additional national surveillance of the beef sector.

High volumes of cattle pass through feedlots. Testing cattle on arrival for M. bovis antibodies before they enter the feedlot can increase identification of farms with infected herds.

The M. bovis Programme contact farms detected through the testing and follow-up with on-farm testing to establish disease status.

More info