The Five Star Beef feedlot will be part of a new beef surveillance pilot for Mycoplasma bovis.
Working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the feedlot will be testing animals from most incoming lines to provide surveillance of the country’s beef sector, supplying vital information to help with the country’s eradication programme, says Grant Bunting, ANZCO GM Livestock and Supply Chain.
“The feedlot has been under movement control following confirmation of infection with Mycoplasma bovis in late winter 2018. Testing has been occurring since then, but the pilot significantly increases the number of cattle being tested on arrival. Testing on arrival for antibodies ensures that the test is checking the status of arriving lines before they enter the feedlot.”
Five Star Beef cattle are raised naturally on grass until about 18 months. Cattle are then sent to Five Star Beef for finishing on grain for an average of 120 days in a controlled environment. “In a typical year around 40,000 cattle pass through the feedlot, providing a good opportunity to increase knowledge of Mycoplasma bovis within the beef industry,” says Bunting.
“Blood samples from the majority of truckloads of cattle will be tested as part of the pilot, which will run for four weeks to test and confirm the methodology. Traceability is a key part of managing the spread of Mycoplasma bovis and the amount of testing available through the feedlot will provide a good level of robust data.
“The sampling is to identify farms that may have Mycoplasma bovis infection – rather than proving which farms are free from infection. MPI will follow up farms that are detected through the testing but will not be contacting farms with negative lines,” he says.
All cattle arriving at the property for finishing ultimately go direct to slaughter and the pilot will not change this process.
New Zealand is the first country to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a serious cattle disease which has no human food safety implications, and this pilot aims to increase understanding of the disease within the beef sector and to contribute to the steps taken towards eradication.
Five Star Beef was established by ANZCO Foods in 1991, to supply niche market demand for high-quality and high value grain-finished beef in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The cattle are raised naturally on grass until about 18 months old and are then sent to the feedlot in Ashburton for finishing on grain in a controlled environment.