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Cattle continue to be banned from cattle shows across New Zealand due to Mycoplasma bovis
July 19, 2018

Cattle are being banned from A&P shows across the country as the risk of Mycoplasma bovis continues to haunt the rural sector.
The risk of prized cattle catching the disease either while being transported to shows or at the events themselves has led to several upcoming spring shows abandoning their cattle sections.

Two of the biggest shows, in Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury, are keeping the situation under review and still hoping to have dairy and beef cattle competitions, but acknowledge they will be smaller than usual and could yet be dropped.

Two big A&P dairy shows, Stratford and Hawera in Taranaki, had cancelled their cattle classes, while the annual NZ Dairy Event in Feilding, which this year prevented South Island exhibitors from attending, had already cancelled its January 2019 show. South Island spring shows including Ashburton, Rangiora and Ellesmere will not include cattle sections this year.

Hawke’s Bay A&P Society general manager Sally Jackson said the¬†cattle section remained¬†in its¬†schedule for the October show, and it was taking advice on the best management.

“If we have to reconsider our position at any time we will do that. If we go ahead¬†as planned,¬†we¬†will be the first show with a cattle section this spring, so others will be watching how we manage this.

“The first priority is¬†the health and wellbeing of the animals¬†and exhibitors.”

She acknowledged the importance of being able to display prime stock at the shows. “For exhibitors it is an opportunity to show and win and be recognised,”¬†Jackson said.

Ashburton dairy farmer and long-time A&P competitor  Peter Gilbert said he was still prepared to show dairy cows at the Canterbury A&P Show in November, despite the risk of M bovis.

He has competed in Christchurch¬†every year for 41 years, “ever since I left school”, as well as being a regular exhibitor at the Ellesmere and Ashburton A&P shows.

“I would probably still show, as long as there is good traceability of animals.¬†If a lot of exhibitors¬†pull out then it is probably not worth going.” Gilbert normally took 10 to 20¬†animals to the Canterbury Show, mainly jerseys.

“It will be quite a bit smaller than usual, but if we have some cattle at the Canterbury Show it will be something,” Gilbert said, who is also¬†the 2017¬†Canterbury A&P Association president and Royal Agricultural Society dairy chairman.

Royal Agriculture Society beef chairman Mark Fleming said guidelines were being drafted in conjunction with the Ministry for Primary Industries to make showing of cattle safe at the Canterbury show.

“These¬†guidelines have gone out to exhibitors as a survey, for¬†an indication of whether they would accept¬†bringing their cattle to the show under these terms,” Fleming said.

“If we don’t try and run the cattle¬†classes for Canterbury, it may be years before the M bovis issue is resolved and it will be difficult to get them back. We know numbers will drop dramatically anyway.”

Once finalised, these guidelines could provide a template for the other 90 A&P shows. However, it was up to each individual association whether they wanted to continue showing cattle, Fleming said.

Safe management included keeping cattle separate from each other when being walked or judged, as well as in stalls, to prevent animals touching. Each exhibitor was also required to have their own bucket for water and feed.

“If it is too costly, or too difficult to implement the protocols and keep animals isolated,¬†individual A&P shows will make that decision,”¬†Fleming said.

Royal Agriculture Society was prepared to cut the cattle classes right up to the start of the show, if recommended by MPI, he said.

Calf classes for children were cancelled at all shows because of the difficulty preventing calves touching and potentially spreading the disease, a second blow for schoolchildren after most school calf days were also canned.

While no calf classes would be held, some North Island associations were considering running virtual calf classes, with judging based on videos of children leading their animals on-farm.

M bovis was detected for the first time in New Zealand in July last year. In a phased eradication costing $886 million, the Government has ordered the cull of about 150,000 cattle in an attempt to rid the country of the bacterial disease which can cause untreatable mastitis, abortion and arthritis in cows. The disease is harmless to humans and is not transmitted through meat or milk.




Summer 2018