Survey shows room for improvement despite progress on Mp. bovis awareness

Dave Harrison, B+LNZ Ltd
Dave Harrison says B+LNZ welcomes the RMA review providing it takes account of the well-being of rural communities.

More than half of sheep and beef farmers have made changes to reduce the risk of their stock becoming infected by Mycoplasma bovis (Mp. bovis), according to research by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

Fifty seven percent of farmers recently surveyed reported they had taken precautions against the disease while 71 percent of farmers feel that they have a high level of knowledge on how to protect their stock from Mp. bovis.

Around a third (34 percent) of farmers in the survey, commissioned by B+LNZ and undertaken by UMR Research, said they had implemented a buffer-zone between them and their neighbours’ stock, as well as communicating with their neighbours about stock on the boundary.

Other changes identified by farmers included an increased focus on yard hygiene (19 percent) and not buying any calves or cattle this year because of concerns about the infection (17 percent).

Of the remaining farmers who had made few or no changes because of Mp. bovis, these were predominantly farmers who ran closed or isolated systems, such as breeders, or were sheep farmers who had no cattle.

The survey also identified areas where more support can be provided to farmers. For example, 41 percent of farmers indicated that they have or are working on a biosecurity plan for their farm, while farmers were also requesting more up-to-date tracking information on the spread of the disease.

Of those farmers who didn’t have or were working on a biosecurity plan, a significant number were looking to implement a plan but weren’t sure where to start.

“The impact of Mycoplasma bovis has been especially tough on farmers whose herds have been infected, so it’s good to see that information about protecting stock from Mp.bovis is being taken onboard by farmers,” says B+LNZ’s general manager policy and advocacy Dave Harrison.

“The survey highlights that where farmers have identified a risk to their stock they are taking actions to reduce the risk of them being exposed to the disease. At the same time, the incursion of Mp. bovis reinforces the need for every farm to have an active biosecurity plan in place.”

While the survey showed that farmers are generally comfortable with the level of support they’re receiving, B+LNZ will be providing more resources to help farmers both apply for compensation as well as speed up the processing of claims. B+LNZ will also be rolling out biosecurity workshop events to help farmers start and improve their on-farm biosecurity plans.

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