Thursday, August 18, 2022

M bovis barriers to cattle genetic importation

Biosecurity NZ says the new import health standard was issued on August 25, with an eight-month delay on implementation.
LIC chair Murray King says NZ does not need to milk more cows, we just need to milk the best cows. File photo

Importations of cattle embryos and semen have been disrupted by New Zealand’s new import health standard (IHS) on bovine germplasm to keep out Mycoplasma bovis and 15 other cattle diseases.

Australian cattle breeders and some vet technicians said the implementation of the new IHS on April 25 was not in the spirit of Anzac.

They said embryos won’t remain viable when treated with antibiotics in the way that Biosecurity NZ requires and therefore the previously healthy embryo transfer (ET) trade will cease.

JAD Speckle Park breeder Amy Dickens, at Yeoval, NSW, said exportation of cattle genetics from Australia to NZ has been stopped and that most NZ breeders would not be aware of the shutdown.

She fears that it will take some time to establish a protocol between NZ and Australian authorities covering ET but that semen consignments could resume more quickly.

Biosecurity NZ said the new IHS was issued on August 25, with an eight-month delay on implementation.

It followed a consultation with the cattle industry and trading partners during which 14 submissions were received, including from Dutch, Canadian and American authorities.

“Throughout this process, we made modifications to the proposed measures to ensure they were workable for all parties while still meeting our biosecurity requirements,” animal and plant health director Peter Thomson said.

“The measures will provide appropriate biosecurity protection and are not intended to halt trade.

“The antibiotic treatment measures for M bovis in embryos follow international guidelines.

“Some submitters claimed that embryos will not remain viable following this treatment, but they have not provided any evidence to substantiate this claim.

“There is not currently a validated test for M bovis in embryos as there is for semen, so treatment with antibiotics is currently the only option to meet our biosecurity requirements.”

Biosecurity NZ said it remained open to receiving and assessing any other options that sufficiently mitigated the risk of M bovis in imported embryos.

“We are currently very close to finalising a new veterinary certificate with the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE),” it said.

“We understand DAWE consulted with Australian germplasm exporters to ensure the measures are workable for them.”

Among the submissions during consultation the NZ Veterinary Association suggested that use of low efficacy antibiotics in this way was against the principles of good antibiotic stewardship and they should not be used.

The Dutch authorities also warned against the proposed antibiotic usage as a control method for M bovis.

Genetics company CRV said the suggested antibiotic concentrations had not been scientifically researched or validated and therefore could not be justified.

It also said that importations of bovine semen had not been shown to transmit M bovis, to which Biosecurity NZ agreed, but added that it is the highest risk pathway.

A Ruminants Genetics Trade Advisory Group in Australia alleged that its own trials treating semen with prescribed levels of antibiotics for the required time proved to be toxic to the semen.

Following the April 25 implementation date, Semex NZ national sales manager Ryan Lett said companies and authorities in various source countries were working with MPI on import protocols under the new IHS.

He was confident that workable arrangements would be made for trade to resume.

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