Genetics companies deny imported semen source of cow disease


The Ministry for Primary Industries has launched an investigation into the possible arrival of the cow disease through bull semen.


Livestock genetic companies are adamant their bull semen is not responsible for bringing in the disease Mycoplasma bovis, but former Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston says farmers need more proof.

He said until the semen and/or the donor bulls had been reliably tested as negative by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) or an independent lab, the possibility of the disease entering New Zealand through semen “must remain open”.

World Wide Sires New Zealand general manager, Hank Lina, believes his company’s procedures mean its semen is free of M. bovis.

The disease, highly contagious within herds but not from farm to farm through airborne means, was detected for the first time in New Zealand in July on two farms owned by South Canterbury farmers Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen.

Mycoplasma bovis is in all of the world’s dairy countries. It does not infect humans and presented no food safety risk. There is no concern about consuming milk and milk products.

Cow disease probably arrived through semen or has been in NZ for some time​

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Dr William Rolleston says farmers want more assurance than what is being given them.

Some animals from the van Leeuwen properties have already been put down for animal welfare reasons, while others are being sent to freezing works for slaughter.

One of the world’s largest semen companies, US genetics firm World Wide Sires said it was “pleased MPI has confirmed there…

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