LIC will test its bulls for mycoplasma bovis as farmers prepare cows for mating

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 16:40 14/09/2017
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ

LIC will test all of its bulls for mycoplasma bovis to provide peace of mind for dairy farmers as many start to prepare to mate their herds.

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Hamilton dairy genetics company Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) will test its artificial breeding bulls for mycoplasma bovis as farmers get ready to mate their herds.

LIC has taken the precaution of testing its bulls for the cow disease after the Ministry for Primary Industries advised dairy farmers to ask suppliers if their donor bulls had been tested.

LIC general manager biological systems Dr Richard Spelman said they had taken that advice on board to test their bulls themselves to remove any uncertainty among farmers.

 "Given there is currently no evidence to suggest that the disease is widespread in New Zealand, we can be confident this disease is not present in our bulls or semen supply, but we are taking extra precautions to provide our farmers with extra reassurance this mating season.

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"We are dotting the last 'I' and crossing the last 'T' and we're confident that the bulls are free of Mycoplasma bovis."

After the cow disease was discovered in Canterbury in July, LIC immediately heightened its hygiene precautions for staff visiting farms as part of infectious disease protocol and increased its quarantine and stock control measures for its bull farms.

Its bulls are permanently kept in quarantine and are under close veterinary supervision. They were also regularly monitored for any signs of disease to ensure that semen was only processed from healthy bulls.

Spelman said the tests would not push up the costs of semen straws.

"Testing our bulls for the disease will provide the extra peace of mind that many farmers are wanting."

Testing of the bulls will start on the week of September 18, and an extra antibiotic will also be added into the fresh semen diluent.

"We are confident this disease is not present in our bulls, but this additional antibiotic will further safeguard our semen supply without impacting the semen fertility," Spelman said.

The testing will include all of the bulls that are on LIC farms including its premier sires, sire proving scheme, SGL and wagyu.

Testing results are expected in October.

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