Screening of bulk tank milk for M. bovis

Find out about the testing of bulk milk from farms as part of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme.

Background to screening

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) first announced it would begin national screening of bulk milk in July 2018. The screening was called the 'Spring Surveillance Programme'.

On 19 June 2019, the Mycoplasma bovis Programme, in consultation with industry, announced that screening of bulk tank milk would continue indefinitely. However, a few modifications would be made to the testing regime to improve the ability to identify infected farms and support the eradication of the infection (M. bovis).

National screening will start on 1 July 2019 and be done monthly.

Why testing will continue

The Spring Surveillance Programme proved extremely valuable as it provided assurance that infection was not widespread outside already identified farms. It also identified a small, additional number of infected farms not found through animal movement tracing. And it highlighted the ability of the ELISA test to produce a very low rate of false positive results.

Ongoing screening of bulk tank milk samples nationally may identify infected herds:

  • otherwise undetected due to incomplete and inaccurate movement records
  • faster than the tracing of animal movements, as those movements can only be traced once the source Confirmed Property is found.

How screening will be done

Testing will begin on 1 July 2019.

  • All samples will be taken as part of the normal milk collection process.
  • Your tanker operator will take the samples. You don't have to do anything extra.
  • A single sample will be tested for each month that you supply milk.
  • If the result is ELISA-positive, you'll be contacted as a high priority by MPI with information about next steps.

What's changing about the testing process

  • From 1 July 2019, we will only use the ELISA testing method, which has proven to be a much better screening tool than the PCR test.
  • We aim to notify farmers of all ELISA-positive test results within 2 weeks of testing.
  • Farms with an ELISA-positive test result will be placed under a Notice of Direction (a NOD) restricting cattle movements while sampling and testing of the herd is carried out to determine the disease status of the farm.
  • ELISA-negative test results will be regularly reported to farmers.

Find out more about the screening – fact sheet [PDF, 628 KB]

Who to contact

If you have questions about the bulk tank milk screening programme:

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