Northland farmer Ken Hames has been elected to the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) board.
The farmer-owned cooperative will supply approximately three-quarters of the dairy industry’s bull semen this spring mating period.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has said there is a low risk of transmission via semen, but there are no studies demonstrating that this actually happens in practice.
Dr Richard Spelman, LIC general manager biological systems, says it is understandable that farmers are concerned about the disease and any risk of transmission through bull semen, but they can have confidence in their co-op.
“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.
“From a young age, all of our bulls are permanently kept in strict quarantine and are under close veterinary supervision. As part of normal practice, collection bulls are regularly monitored for any signs of disease to ensure that semen is only processed from healthy bulls.
“Testing our bulls for the disease will provide the extra peace of mind that many farmers are wanting.”
Following the discovery of Mycoplasma bovis in July, LIC immediately implemented heightened hygiene precautions for staff visiting farms as part of infectious disease protocol and increased quarantine and stock control measures for its bull farms.
Testing of the bulls will start next week, 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 all bulls LIC is commercially selling this season and that are on LIC farms will be tested, including the Premier Sires teams, Sire Proving Scheme, SGL and Wagyu. Results are expected in October.