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Depopulation + Cleaning & Disinfection

What is depopulation?

Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) can be extremely difficult to detect. A seemingly healthy animal can have M. bovis and still infect others. So if we confirm the disease in one animal we have to assume M. bovis has infected the whole herd is infected and cull them all.

The farm or affected areas of a farm will be depopulated and cleared of stock.

Can I continue farming as usual?

We will work with you to ensure the timing of any cull has the least impact on production.

After depopulation, there’s a minimum 60-day stand-down period. No cattle will be allowed on the farms. The infected properties will be cleaned and disinfected.

Then the aim is to get cattle back on the farms as soon as possible. Surveillance, monitoring and testing remains in place for a time as a further safeguard.

A step-by-step guide to depopulation

We know that this is likely to be a distressing time for you and your family. So we’ll work with you on a plan to get you back to business as usual as soon as possible.

To get there, there are some key steps to go through.

  • 1. Notice of Direction to depopulate

    Your Farm Systems Manager will deliver a Notice of Direction (NOD) to depopulate the parts of your farm within the boundaries of the RP Notice. This NOD will contain details of the cattle to be culled. The NOD to depopulate is often issued at the same time as the RP Notice.

    All stock to be depopulated will be valued. This valuation will assist with compensation claims. We have independent valuers are available to do this valuation, or you can choose to get an independent valuation done at your own expense.

  • 2. Develop a depopulation plan

    Depopulation is better carried out as soon as it can be managed. In some circumstances it may be possible for you to continue farming for the season (i.e. go through ‘phased’ depopulation) with the approval of the M. bovis Programme if:

    • your farming activities can be carried out in isolation from other farms
    • continuing to farm helps you mitigate (reduce or avoid) any losses connected with depopulation
    • continuing to farm will not result in negative impacts to your welfare, or that of your animals.

    Choosing ‘phased’ depopulation can add a very high level of additional stress, to you, your family and staff, and you should carefully consider if this option is right for you.

    You can also discuss a repopulation plan at the time you are making a depopulation plan.

  • 3. Depopulation

    When cattle are ready to leave the farm for processing, you will need to:

    All stock will have NAIT tags scanned and be counted as they’re loaded onto the truck. They’ll then be transported to the meat works where they’ll be processed in line with standard processes, including recording the slaughter in NAIT.

    It is important to remember that you retain responsibility for the NAIT records for your cattle during the depopulation process.

    The meat works will provide a kill sheet, which will be reconciled with the count conducted at load-out to ensure all animals have been culled, and confirm the number for compensation.

    Trucks transporting infected cattle are required to undergo cleaning and disinfection after moving cattle from a property subject to a RP, to a meat works.

Cleaning and disinfection / Stand down

After depopulation each area under the RP Notice will need to undergo:

  • cleaning and disinfection (C&D); and/or
  • a 60-day stand down (during stand down cattle cannot come into contact with areas covered by the RP Notice).

C&D and stand-down requirements are determined by the farm type and level of risk associated with particular areas and items on the farm.

For example, on dairy farms, the milking environment will require both C&D and a 60-day stand down. For beef and dry stock farms, typically either C&D or a 60-day stand down will be required for most areas and items.

Where both C&D and a 60-day stand down are required, they will be carried out simultaneously – that is, C&D will take place during the stand-down period.

  • 1. Cleaning

    The aim of cleaning is to remove animal waste, debris, dirt and organic matter from surfaces.

    Cleaning removes the majority of M. bovis bacteria from the environment and allows disinfectants to make effective contact with any remaining bacteria.

  • 2. Disinfection

    The aim of disinfection is to destroy any bacteria that may remain after cleaning.

    Disinfection is carried out by applying appropriate disinfectants directly onto the surface of an item or area for the recommended contact time to destroy M. bovis.

  • 3. Stand down

    M. bovis is very fragile in the environment, so a stand down enables the natural processes of time, dehydration, warmth and sunlight to reduce the number of any surviving M. bovis bacteria.

    This period may be a good time to take a break, or sit down with your farm advisers to plan your next steps.

    We can provide people to help, or put you in touch with someone that can. Your Farm Systems Manager will be able to assist you including obtaining additional specialist advice.

  • 4. Cleaning & Disinfection sign-off / legal controls lifted

    Once the C&D process and/or stand down have been completed, a recommendation from the regional M. bovis Programme office will be made to your Farm Systems Manager to lift your RP Notice.

    In some instances, parts of a farm may still be subject to a Notice of Direction and Active Surveillance testing after the RP Notice has been lifted.

Final step to farm recovery:

Protect your farm from disease - separate, clean and disinfect