Cattle classes at a 135-year-old agricultural show have been cancelled to protect Taranaki animals from mycoplasma Bovis.
Although the disease has not yet spread to Taranaki, regular competitors at the Egmont A and P Show in Hāwera were already planning to stay away, and the executive committee has now decided to cancel all calf and cattle classes for its November 2018 event.
The committees of the Stratford A and P and Waverley A and P Associations will meet later this month to decide whether to follow suit.
Some of the cattle on show were worth a lot of money, Egmont A and P Society show secretary Celine Filbee said.
“As an example, when the Revells [longtime show stalwarts] sold up their herd earlier in the year they had several cattle that went for over $30,000 each. To put them at risk of mycoplasma bovis for $15 and a red ribbon is not good business.
“We did canvass some of the competitors and several of them intimated they would probably not come. There’s no recorded incidence of it [M. Bovis] in Taranaki yet but we have a duty to the industry to assist MPI in eradicating it and one way to do that is not to have the cattle show,” Filbee said.
The committee was still deciding what to do about the calf sales it hosts during calving season.
“Obviously farmers have to go about their business so calf sales are a lot more essential than cow and calf shows.”
If the sales went ahead, there would be considerable controls in place to manage the biosecurity risk.
Doubt also hangs over Taranaki’s three calf club shows, Kathy Rowlands, who organises the South Taranaki Calf Club show at Kaponga, said.
“We have a meeting on July 12 and we will be making our decision then.”
Instead, the club might go back to its roots with a competition where the calves could stay safely at home, she said.
“They’re looking at having a calf project, run through Facebook, judged through pictures.”
Calf rearing competitions were originally introduced as a project on farms alongside school garden competitions.
“It took a couple of years to develop before they started taking the calves to school. The kids had to sign up and keep a diary of looking after their calf. It looks like that’s what it might be coming back to for this year. It’s really sad, but if we get this other thing going, it will fill the gap.”
Some of the rural schools had already cancelled calf classes at their annual pet days, and others would probably do the same.
Instead, emphasis was going on to lambs and other pets, which were not affected by M. Bovis.
Many of the calves which were raised by school students came from families of sharemilkers, she said.
“If you’re a 50/50 sharemilker, it would put your livelihood at risk being in contact with somebody’s calf that had it. I think it’s better to be cautious.”
Stratford A and P Show had been due to host the North Island Championships for four cattle breeds, secretary Vicki Jagersma said.
“The committee is meeting on July 16 and will make a decision then.”
The Waverley A and P Show committee will decide if it will go ahead with calf classes this year at its annual meeting in the next few weeks, secretary Ruth Lupton said.
Source: Taranaki Daily News