Update for vets: March 2023

We have a quick update for you with two topical items: An update from the CVO on the cyclone response and some guidance on recent changes to penicillin product withholding periods. We’ll be back in touch later in the month with our regular update.

Chief Veterinary Officer’s update on Cyclone Gabrielle response


Thank you to everyone who has been working together across the profession on this response. Our teams here at MPI are working with three regional control centres in Northland, Hawkes Bay and Tairāwhiti. The Animal Welfare Emergency Management team has staff deployed in affected regions. The endemic animal health team is assessing how this heavy rain event will change endemic disease patterns so that, where possible, disease preparedness actions can be taken to protect the national herd during the recovery period.

As I’ve said in earlier updates, please keep feeding information to MPI and raising issues. This may include communicating about items that are in short supply in affected regions, or that are likely to be needed in increased quantities over the coming weeks and months due to these adverse events. Send all your updates and questions to [email protected]


MPI has been in regular contact with various agencies across the cyclone response. We are hearing that:

  • Overall, the response is functioning well in most areas, although there are still some locations that are isolated or cut off by road.
  • A process for ensuring critical supplies are delivered to isolated rural communities is in place. Under the process, farmers with no road access for deliveries are able to order critical supplies from their usual suppliers and MPI will help arrange delivery by air or Unimog. Critical supplies are water reticulation materials, temporary boundary fencing materials, and animal health supplies and veterinary medicines.
  • A community-led operation, Operation Muster – Hawke’s Bay, is being initiated to provide a coordinated approach to the movement of livestock from farming communities with access issues. MPI will have a facilitating role in this operation, and further work on how it will operate will begin next week.
  • There are reports of flystrike being a concern and MPI is working to ensure that enough flystrike preventative medication is available, as well as other medications, including vaccinations for disease conditions that may increase following flooding.
  • The Hawke’s Bay temporary animal shelter will close on 16 March 2023 and HUHA is working with owners to return animals home or find accommodation elsewhere.

There is government support in place, including grants to support farmers and growers and businesses.

Business recovery support

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has opened its $25 million grant programme to support businesses affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and January’s floods in the North Island.

These grants are being administered by local or regional councils, so contact your local authority for information.

Information is available here: Cyclone and flood recovery for businesses — business.govt.nz

Farmer and grower recovery support

Farmers, growers, and whenua Māori owners significantly affected by Cyclone Gabrielle can get support to kick-start recovery efforts.

Funding is available for farmers and growers to undertake urgent repair work, including fencing, and clearing silt to save trees and vines.

A total of $51 million is now available after the Government boosted funding by $26 million.

More information is available here: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-rural-support/adverse-events/cyclone-gabrielle-recovery-advice-support-and-funding-available/#fund

MPI’s general information on the flood response, including animal welfare advice, is here:  www.mpi.govt.nz/cyclonerecovery

Information on caring for livestock after flooding is here .

NZVA has also produced  flood resources .

Vets across New Zealand Food Safety are also playing vital roles to ensure that spoiled human food is not put into the animal food chain and ACVM colleagues are supporting producers and growers to stay compliant with maximum residue levels (MRL). There is also a role here to enable the domestic sale of produce and providing advice regarding that crossover into the animal feeds space.

Your work makes a difference. Thank you.


Guidance on recent changes to penicillin withholding periods

Following NZ Food Safety’s antimicrobial resistance reassessment review, pharmaceutical companies have been asked to review and update their labels in regard to appropriate dose rates for clinical disease indications where penicillin is an antimicrobial of choice. We have worked with NZ Food Safety and the NZVA to produce an explainer and some guidance on these changes.

Read the guidance