Cattle classes at A&P show

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Cattle classes will still be held at the North Otago A&P Show next month.

The A&P Association has decided not to follow several Otago and Southland shows in cancelling cattle sections as a precaution against the spread of the bacterial disease Mycoplasma bovis

North Otago secretary Katrina Kelly said the committee agreed it was not its place to tell cattle breeders and farmers they could not take their animals to the Oamaru Showgrounds on February 24.

After meeting last week, the committee posted its decision on its Facebook page.

“The choice to show or not will be left up to exhibitors,” it said.

“The association will be making sure all precautions are in place to assist exhibitors to stick to the guidelines that MPI (the Ministry for Primary Industries) recommends.”

The committee, which had been in close contact with the ministry since the outbreak began in July, said it had never been told to cancel the cattle classes.

Mrs Kelly said there had been “a reasonably positive response” to the committee’s stance.

Some Southland breeders had been “a bit upset” at not being able to take their cattle to other shows, and were planning to attend the North Otago event.

“I don’t think our numbers will be huge, though.”

The safety precautions would include sanitising cattle areas between judgings, and having an empty stall between each exhibitor’s stock.

Meanwhile, the ministry and its dairy industry partners have announced they are extending the milk testing already being carried out in Canterbury, Otago, and Southland into a national M. bovis milk surveillance programme.

Checking for possible regional clusters was essential to building a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand, it said.

Three milk samples from every dairy farm would be tested, one from bulk milk at collection and and two samples from “discard milk”.

The disease was more easily identified in milk from animals that were already sick, which made discard milk tests a valuable surveillance tool, the ministry said.

The programme was expected to begin next month.