Ashburton’s mayor backs the depopulation of the district’s major cattle feedlot to curb the mycoplasma bovis disease, even though he expects an impact on the local economy.
Neil Brown said he supported Biosecurity New Zealand’s move to depopulate the Five Star Beef Anzco feedlot at Wakanui and to put a buffer zone around it.
“If it’s leaking out of the feedlot, then they need to empty the feedlot,” Brown said of the animal feeding outlet, which generally houses about 12,000 cattle.
“If anything has leaked out of the feedlot, and is in those animals, they will be culled to eradicate the disease from the area.’’
Brown admitted those actions would “have a ripple effect across the Ashburton economy as a lot of businesses get income off the feedlot”.
He said meatworks, feed suppliers and farmers selling stock would be impacted, as well as the farmers that would have stock culled – some for a second time.
Ministry for Primary Industries have said they would begin culling infected livestock at the feedlot from October 13.
To coincide with that depopulation, a controlled area notice (CAN) is to be introduced for the Wakanui area, affecting 14 cattle farms – including three properties owned by Anzco.
As part of the CAN, eight properties in the high-risk area will be depopulated by mid-January 2023.
A further six farms in the at-risk area around the feedlot will undergo increased testing.
“We are working hard to investigate the exact transmission route, but at present that remains unclear,” MPI’s M. bovis programme director Simon Andrew said.
“Without a precise understanding of why this is happening, we need to take a different approach to protect cattle and farmers in the area. “
Brown, who has farms by the Rakaia River, backed moves to complete the successful eradication of the infectious disease, which has plagued the industry since 2017.
The bacteria affects cows but has no impact on human health.
It can also get into the udder, and cows can pass it on to calves through their milk. In calves, it can cause pneumonia and is difficult to treat, while in fully-grown animals it can cause mastitis and arthritis.
The Ministry for Primary Industries believed the disease may have first arrived in New Zealand in late 2015 or 2016.
“With my farming hat on, I’m glad MPI are doing what they are doing,’’ Brown said.
“They are so close to eradication now they don’t want to let anything get out.”
He said MPI had spent around $588 million on eradication “so let’s finish it off properly”.
- By Jonathan Leask