A MAJOR cull of cattle has been announced in a bid to eradicate the Mycoplasma bovis disease which has been spreading through New Zealand's cattle herd.

Around 126,000 cattle will be culled over the next two years, on top of the 26,000 cattle already being culled, as part of the wider eradication programme costing NZ the equivalent of £462million over ten years.

Although farmers, the government and the farming industry had mixed concerns regarding a major cull, the government says it has reached agreement with farm leaders to eradicate M Bovis – which would be the first time in the world that a country will have eradicated the disease with such a step.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “This is a tough call, no one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd."

She insisted that there was a real chance of eradication to protect over 20,000 dairy and beef farms in New Zealand. As part of the programme, all farms that have been found infected with M Bovis will be ‘de-populated’ plus cattle on most restricted properties will also be culled. The farms will then be disinfected and will remain empty of livestock for 60 days after which they can be restocked.

NZ meat processors say they will be able to handle the increased numbers during the culling programme.