Schools ban cattle from pet days

DIFFICULT DECISION: Some Selwyn schools have cut cattle from its annual pet days this year as a result of the Mycoplasma bovis disease.

Cattle have been banned from attending some Selwyn school pet days in a bid to stop the spread of mycoplasma bovis.

Ellesmere College, Leeston Consolidated School, Southbridge School and Ladbrooks School have all taken a stand against the cattle disease.

In March, the Government signed off on the culling of thousands of animals in a bid to eradicate the disease.

The Ellesmere Agricultural Science and Technology club runs the annual pet day for Leeston Consolidated School, Southbridge School and year 7 and 8s students from Ellesmere College.

Club president Jo Benny said there will be no cattle on site during its pet day on November 2, but there may be an electronic solution.

“I have signed up to a Facebook page that are looking to start an online calf club, so kids can still present their pet calves, just electronically,” she said.

Mrs Benny said it was “bound by” the Ellesmere A & P Show’s decision not to have cattle, as it holds its pet days at the showgrounds.

In spite of the ban, Ladbrooks School is hopeful judges may be able to visit each property and assess the cattle individually.

On Friday, the number of active infected properties with mycoplasma bovis in Canterbury was 19, said a Ministry for Primary Industries report.

Ellesmere A & P Show president Trevor Hobson said it made the call to ban cattle as the disease is present in Selwyn and it cannot risk spreading it any further.

“It was a commonsense decision. There will be no backlash from it. It is disappointing to see it happen, but it was the sensible decision to make,” Mr Hobson said.

He was uncertain as to how long it would be until the show would accept cattle entries again.

However, cattle classes will be included in November’s Canterbury A & P Show.

Show staff said it is exploring measures to limit the risk of mycoplasma bovis contamination.

More than 50 cattle breeders and show staff attended an exhibitors meeting recently, with the majority indicating they were willing to show stock at the New Zealand Agricultural Show 2018.

•HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you agree with the decision to cut cattle from pet days at Selwyn schools this year? Email your views to emily.oconnell@starmedia.kiwi

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