A Cambridge dairy farmer has hit back at “far-fetched” rumours his farm business has Mycoplasma bovis.
The infectious bacterial disease was found for the first time in New Zealand last July and has since been mostly contained to the South Island with 28 properties confirmed to have tested positive.
Henk Smit is adamant his farm is not one of them.
“I think people have got boring lives and they like to make up stories,” he said.
Smit’s family owns three farms and bought cows from a South Island farm two years ago that was linked with a farm that had tested positive, but so far tests had showed his herd had tested negative for the disease.
“We’re currently going through three sets of blood testing with the cows and so far everything has come back negative.
“I definitely don’t have Mycoplasma bovis as far as I know.”
His farm had been put under a notice of direction by officials from the Ministry for Primary Industries. The notice is placed when stock movements are considered to pose a risk of spreading M bovis.
The bacterial disease caused a range of serious conditions including mastitis pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk.
The 28 infected properties are in Canterbury, Hawkes’ Bay, Mid-Canterbury, South Canterbury/North Otago, and Southland.
Smit said the notice had not caused too much of a disruption to his farm business, apart from him having to keep his younger stock on the farm for longer instead of taking them to his runoff block.
“Out of courtesy towards the neighbours of the runoff, I’m keeping that stock at home. I’m allowed to keep them there, but I have to fence them a metre away from the fence.”
While he was confident his cattle were M bovis free, he understood the M bovis testing was not 100 per cent accurate, leading to false-positives and false-negatives.
“The thing that makes me a little bit nervous is the accuracy of this test, apparently some cows can carry Johne’s [disease] or BVD [Bovine Viral Diarrhoea] and that can influence the result of the test.
“Plus we’re autumn calving and we’re in the middle of calving and there’s always a cow with uterine infection after calving.”
That could also impact the test, he said.
Tests were being carried out five weeks apart and he hoped to be in the clear by June.
By: GERALD PIDDOCK