The farmer at the centre of a new-to-New Zealand cattle disease has voluntarily euthanised some of the animals affected, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.
The Van Leeuwen Dairy Group of farms are in lockdown.
Two dozen cows on one of the group’s farms have tested positive for bacterial disease mycoplasma bovis, and are the first to have the disease in New Zealand.
A further 150 cows on the property have signs of infection.
Sixteen individual properties involved in the farm group have Restricted Place Notices controlling the movement of stock.
A small number of animals have been euthanised voluntarily by the farmer for animal welfare reasons.
Owner Aad Van Leeuwen told Fairfax he had wanted to kill the animals as soon as they were diagnosed, but had been advised not to as it was in the interests of the industry to contain the disease.
“It’s devastating, especially for the people working on the farm. It just hits you and you don’t know what to think, you don’t know where it comes from,” he said.
MPI’s regional controller Dr Chris Rodwell says the situation is well under control.
“At this time we are still determining the scale of this situation through on- farm sampling and testing, and tracing of movements of stock on and off the properties.
“This will help inform our future management activities which we are currently working up in partnership with the animal industry bodies.”
He says measures could include selective culling of some stock.
“We know other farmers in the area have concerns. This is entirely understandable. That’s why we talked to a well-attended meeting of local farmers in Glenavy.
“I’d like to assure people that the disease is a slow-moving one that is transmitted by close contact between animals and not across big distances by wind or water.”
Mycoplasma bovis can be present in milk and transmitted to other cows this way.