Cattle Massacre in New Zealand


     I see where New Zealand is planning to kill 150,000 cows in an attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.  This bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis— all of which result in production losses. Of the 39  herds known to be infected, they plan to slaughter some of the cows for human consumption and exterminate the rest and bury them on the farm. The estimated cost is  over 600 million USD.  

     I think this is a bad idea for several reasons.  If there is a possibility of other domestic or feral animals also harboring the disease, there is always the possibility of reinfection from these sources.  Here in the US. Brucellosis and Tuberculosis have been eradicated in most domestic herds but are still endemic in feral bison, elk and deer.

     I also wonder if it is a good idea to arbitrarily kill the exposed, unaffected animals in the infected herds.  It seems to me, the fact some animals in the herd are not affected indicates a degree of natural immunity to the disease that would be beneficial to preserve.

     In the last analysis, it often is not a bacteria that causes a problem but an impaired immune system.  If New Zealand cows are not managed any better than US cows they, too, are probably under a lot of stress, force fed too much protein and suffer from grossly unbalanced minerals in their diet.  An animal with an impaired immune system is more susceptible to any germ that comes along — if you eradicate one germ another will often take its place.  

     In 1961 the USDA mandated a Hog Cholera eradication program which successfully resulted in the US being declared free of Hog Cholera in 1978.  This was hailed as a great success.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before other, heretofore almost unknown, virus diseases of swine such as pseudo-rabies began to cost the swine industry almost as many dollars as had Hog Cholera before eradication.  This is a good example of the way nature uses germs as ‘censors of nature’ to eliminate substandard individuals.