M.Bovis Important Information

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This season with M.Bovis in New Zealand, many farmers have questions concerning the stock they are receiving onto their farms. To address these concerns, we have developed an information page which is sent with every Animal Declaration Form and includes the following content:

Vaccinations
Every calf has received the following vaccinations, two Salvexin B vaccinations for salmonella (4 – 6 weeks apart), two 10 in 1 vaccinations (4 – 6 weeks apart), one Pilliguard vaccination (for Pinkeye).

Worm Drenching
Each group of calves will have received at least one, sometimes two, pour-on worm drenches for the control of internal and external parasites. The date of the latest drench is on the ASD Form.

Calf Source
To reduce the risk of bringing M.Bovis onto our farm through the purchasing of livestock, we have bought the bulk of our calves direct from dairy farmers in the area surrounding Tirau. We have also bought some calves from the saleyards (Tirau, Cambridge, Frankton and Reperoa). All stock going to the saleyards or being sold to us had to have declarations that they were coming from M.Bovis free herds.

Calf Feeding
Another risk of bringing M.Bovis onto our farm was through milk. To eliminate this risk, we have treated all milk coming onto our farm for calf feeding, with Citric Acid. This lowers the pH and kills any potential M.Bovis bacterium. All our milk has been treated with Citric Acid to drop the pH to 4.5 or below. This was on recommendation from Nita Harding at Dairy NZ. We originally did some trial work with Nita and a Fonterra Rep around how to make this a simple task on-farm and also to check that the calves would still drink the milk. This trial work is summarized on the DairyNZ website under ‘Citric Acid Treatment of Milk’. It has been hugely successful in our system and widely distributed amongst the farming community as a cost effective, simple way to eliminate the risk of giving calves M.Bovis through milk feeding.

Country Calendar

We are very excited to be appearing on Country Calendar next month. The Producer and Film crew spent a whole week on-farm and on the lake filming the calves, cows, our staff and family. It should be a good show, with lots of laugh’s thrown in too. The calves looked so good in the sheds and out in the paddock, so hopefully you enjoy getting an inside look at what we do every day.

The show airs at 7pm on TV1, on the 22nd July.

M. bovis

The entry of this disease into NZ has impacted hugely on all our farming businesses. It is costing the industry and country a lot of money and causing a lot of worry and reassessment of how we do things. If you want to keep up to date with what is happening you can subscribe to the weekly MPI newsletter on the MPI website or through the links Fonterra and DairyNZ send out. I would encourage you to do this, there is a lot of interesting information available.

We are getting lots of questions around what we are doing in our business this year. We have certainly reviewed everything we do. We now have a Biosecurity Policy and signs in place, with no visitors coming on-farm without going through the footbath etc. All milk bought in this year will be treated with citric acid to drop the pH to 4.5 and kill any potential M. bovis bacterium. Calves will still drink milk at this pH, so we don’t see it having a negative effect on calf welfare. M. bovis is killed if the pH of milk is dropped to 4.3 or lower for 1 hour, or 5 or below for 8 hours. Calf palatability is affected at pH 4 or below.

Citric acid is a reasonably cost-effective way of reducing pH, and is easily handled (gloves, face mask and eye goggles required). We think this is a good safeguard if you are bringing milk in yourselves from other farms and feeding it to your calves. We have purchased our citric acid from Clark Products in the Hawkes Bay, though we are expecting this to be available at Farm Merchant Stores this spring.

We have heard of one calf rearer purchasing a pasteurizer, however this is an expensive option ($35 – $50k ish depending on the size). Thermaflo from Palmerston North seem to be working well in this space. The other option is milk powder, which is completely safe. There could well be supply issues with this again this year, so if you are looking for milk powder, purchase and store this on-farm to ensure supply.