Cattle farmers offered free testing to tackle M bovis

Cattle farmers are being offered free testing to tackle Mycoplasma bovis (M bovis), one of the most common causes of pneumonia in calves in the UK.

M bovis is a bacterial disease that can also cause arthritis, swollen limbs and mastitis in older animals.

Meadow Vets has teamed up with Dutch livestock veterinary medicines firm Kernfarm, Merlin Vets and Livestock Health Scotland to offer cattle farmers across the UK a free diagnostic support package to help tackle the disease.

See also: Q&A: What you need to know about M bovis in cattle

Three forms of testing are available: Bulk milk polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, serology testing of home-bred calves older than five months old, and PCRs of post-mortem examination lung tissue. These samples will be processed at Biobest, Edinburgh.

Paul Burr, lab director at Biobest, said: “In our laboratory we find M bovis in approximately half of all our respiratory PCR multiplex tests; it is far more prevalent than many vets previously thought.”

Graeme Fowlie, director of Meadow Vets in Aberdeenshire, said M bovis is of growing concern to cattle farmers and vets alike. It is often a primary invader, but can frequently be underdiagnosed.

“M bovis is endemic in the UK’s dairy and beef herds and is responsible for many more problems than would appear at first glance,” said Mr Fowlie.

Graeme Fowlie

Graeme Fowlie, director at Meadow Vets © Agri-hub

‘Grumbling’ problems

The bacteria can often be the cause of “grumbling” problems in herds such as pneumonia, mastitis and joint ill, he explained.

However, because treatment options remain limited, Mr Fowlie said it was vital to identify M bovis in affected herds and introduce farm-specific management changes, such as enhanced biosecurity, optimised treatment controls and, where indicated by a vet, herd vaccination.

“Used together, the diagnostics and vaccine will help us to take back control,” said Mr Fowlie.

·For more information on M bovis testing, call Mr Fowlie on 01651 872481 or email