Reducing the risks of cattle getting TB
Advice on farming practices which reduce the risk of cattle
contracting TB is based on circumstantial evidence, is sometimes
contradictory, but is often the result of real experience.
main, farming advice is directed at keeping badgers and cattle
apart. This does not mean that there is a link between badgers,
cattle and TB. All it means is that if it does turn out that there
is such a link, these are common-sense steps to take.
Of course, if there is no link between
badgers, cattle and TB, some or all of these steps may be wasteful.
end of the day, it is up to each farmer to manage his own farm.
- With tight strip grazing, as the electric fence moves forward, badgers are tempted
to explore the newly grazed short-cropped grass. The worn area near the fence gives easy access to earthworms
which make up a major portion of the badger's diet.
- Maize can be a key food source for badgers in late
autumn when other food sources are drying up. In particular, it helps to
sustain badger cubs through their first winter.
- Use sound fencing to stop nose-to-nose contact with other cattle and
place barriers in gateways to stop contact with cattle on the other
- Electric fences can be effective in keeping badgers out of cattle
areas but keep grass trimmed underneath the fence so that it does not
- Avoid common grazing if you can. Otherwise arrange for synchronized
testing for all cattle on the area.
- Consider moving to a closed herd system, breed your own
- If cattle are bought in, isolate them and consider a private TB test.
- Keep winter housing well-ventilated and dry.
- Tell your neighbours if you have a TB breakdown.
- Periods of stress may aggravate outbreaks e.g. at maximum lactation,
bulling, testing, poor husbandry.
This advice was given in 1999, and remains subject to change, based on
the results of scientific tests and new knowledge. For up-to-date guidance
have suggested that organically-raised cattle have an exceptionally low
incidence of TB infections. Very little research has proven this to be the
case in the UK, but there is some evidence that organic cattle in
countries where TB is endemic appear to have a high resistance towards the
disease. This, and the possibility of getting higher prices for stock
sales, should be a factor to consider if you were considering going 100%
organic or moving towards more organic methods.