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What neighbours should know about Mycoplasma bovis

Why there’s a low risk of over-the-fence spread of infection

The main way that Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) spreads is through direct and prolonged contact between infected and uninfected cattle.

Infected cattle must be actively shedding (releasing) the bacteria and mingling for a reasonable length of time for infection to spread.

M. bovis is not spread through air or water. So if the external boundaries of your farm are secure your neighbour’s farm poses very little M. bovis infection risk to you.

M. bovis can also be spread to calves that are fed milk from infected cows.

More information about M. bovis.

  • Reinforcing your farm’s boundaries

    To secure your farm’s external boundaries make sure fences are well maintained with no weak areas where cattle could break through – either yours or your neighbour’s.

    You may wish to put up an extra separation wire on your side of the fence for extra peace of mind that there’s an additional buffer zone between your properties and to further reduce the risk of cattle wandering. It is ideal is to keep groups of cattle at least two metres apart.

  • Planned grazing

    Talk to your neighbour about any plans you or they have for grazing boundary lines between your properties.

    You may wish to avoid grazing a particular area while your neighbour has stock in the next-door paddock.

  • Wandering stock

    If you find cattle on your farm that may have come from your neighbour’s property:

    • isolate the cattle immediately from your own stock as soon as you can
    • check for and isolate any other wandering stock that may have mixed with your cattle.
    • contact the M. bovis Programme - Farmer Liasion team  as soon as you can about all wandering stock on your property – we’ll advise you what to do next
    • check your farm boundaries to see if there’s a breach through which the cattle entered – block it immediately and repair it as soon as possible.
    • carry out a census of all your stock to identify and isolate any other wandering stock that may have mixed with your herds.
  • Testing of cattle

    Properties with cattle that neighbour properties with the infection need to be assessed to see if testing is required. We'll be in touch to carry out an assessment of your farm.

    Find out more about what's involved with testing.

  • Improve your protection

    There is no current evidence, either in New Zealand or internationally, that M. bovis spreads from:

    • footwear, clothing or vehicles, including stock trucks
    • soil, mud, urine or dung
    • uninfected cattle using yards, paddocks or walkways infected cattle have previously used.

    But it’s recommended to have good biosecurity practices in place to enhance your protection against M. bovis and other pests and diseases.

    Biosecurity Warrant of Fitness

    Protect your farm from disease, give it a Biosecurity Warrant of Fitness.

  • Supporting your neighbour

    Please think about how you can support your neighbour at this time.

    They will be facing the culling of cattle, followed by a process of cleaning and disinfection and/or a stand down of affected parts of their farm.

    There’s no evidence that people going between farms spreads M. bovis, so you don’t have any worries about popping in to see how they’re doing.

    Be aware that depending on what part of their farm you visit, you may have to follow some good biosecurity practices, like cleaning and disinfecting boots when arriving and leaving.

Things you need to let us know about

In the absence of wandering stock there’s very little risk of M. bovis spreading across the boundary from your neighbour’s place to yours.

But there are some practices that increase risk of your farm being infected, so please let us know if:

  • you have traded animals with your neighbour
  • stock have crossed the boundary, either from your neighbour's farm to your farm, or vice versa
  • you have fed milk to your calves or used service bulls supplied by your neighbour, or supplied service bulls to your neighbour.

Contact our Farmer Liaison team:

Farmer tip

If a legal direction is given to you, make sure you understand it and always get it in writing. Claiming compensation is easier when there’s clear evidence that your losses stemmed from a legal direction given by the M. bovis programme.