Cattle section cancelled

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Disease precaution . . . The cattle classes at Oxford A & P show have been cancelled to safeguard stock. PHOTO: Wayne Roberts

By ROBYN BRISTOW

The cattle section at the Oxford A&P show at Easter has been cancelled due to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

About 150 cattle normally line up at the show, but the risk to stock, in close contact at the grounds, is too great, association executive officer Christine Roberts says.

She says the decision follows a meeting of the executive and cattle section convenors, with Dr Hamish Reid from Vetlife Oxford Veterinary Services speaking about how it could be spread.

“Following discussion and with the best interests of our exhibitors at heart, the committee resolved not to hold the Cattle Section this year,” she says. “The decision was not made lightly and only after all matters were taken into consideration.”

Dr Reid supports the decision. He says while the Mycoplasma bovis risk to show cattle was small, it was the right stand to take.

“It would be devastating for everyone involved if it turned out an animal had picked up the disease at the show, because most of the cattle are stud animals with genetics that go back generation after generation.

“It is the right decision and the thing to do because of the unknown and it shows support for farmers.”

Dr Reid says it is not known how widespread the disease is, which is something the Ministry for Primary Industries is investigating.

Mycoplasma bovis causes mastitis, arthritis and pneumonia in cattle. It is implicated in the development or exacerbation of bovine respiratory disease, also called “shipping fever”.

Dr Reid says it lives in the tonsils and upper respiratory tract of animals and can be spread through bodily fluid such as tears, blood and semen. “But it needs close contact between animals.”

He says it can be transferred in many ways, including on trucks when cattle are being transported, in cattle yards, via gumboots, or milking plants.

“I think the biggest and most annoying thing is, you cannot tell what animals have got it until they come down with the dreaded disease,” he says.

However, most animals did not have it.

Christine says one cattle breeder, Phil and Kay Worthington, were willing to bring their Woolstone Park lowlines to the show so the junior judging and handlers competitions could continue, as well as provide a spectacle for the public.

A barbecue was also planned for all past exhibitors and stewards to thank them for their support.

Hawarden A&P, the only other A&P show that has strong cattle entries, is continuing with its cattle section.

Secretary Amanda Bowes said it was felt that, as shown cattle were mostly local and are all beef breeds, they would continue with the section.