Wellington: New Zealand plans to slaughter about 150,000 cows as it tries to eradicate a strain of disease-causing bacteria from the national herd.
Politicians and industry leaders announced the ambitious plan today. They say it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and, if successful, would be the first time an infected country has eliminated Mycoplasma bovis.
Farming is vital to the economy in New Zealand, whose isolation has helped protect it from some diseases which affect herds elsewhere.
Last July, Mycoplasma bovis was found in the country for the first time. Found in Europe and the US, the bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases. They are not considered a threat to food safety, but do cause production losses.
Officials say they plan to kill all cows on any farms where the bacteria are found, even if some of the animals are healthy. They say many of the cows will be slaughtered at processing plants and used for beef, but some cows will have to be killed and buried on the farms or dumped in approved landfills. AP