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Cattle troughs and badgers - a potential route for the transmission of bovine tuberculosis



Applied Animal Behaviour Science - Volume 80, Issue 1 , 2 January 2003, Pages 1-8


B. T. Garnett, T. J. Roper and R. J. Delahay from the University of Sussex and the Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York


Cattle feed troughs that are contaminated with badger excreta constitute a potential transmission route for the spread of bovine tuberculosis from badgers to cattle. In order to investigate the maximum height to which a trough would have to be raised to make it secure against badgers, we presented wild badgers with an experimental trough that could be set to a range of heights. In two separate experiments, a total of at least 12 badgers from two social groups at Woodchester Park, Gloucestershire, South-West England managed to climb into the trough when it was set at heights above 80cm (i.e. higher than the current recommended safety guidelines for farmers). The maximum height to which badgers could climb was 115cm, which would place the trough beyond the reach of calves, young heifers and bullocks. We conclude that there is no safe height at which troughs can be set to feed young cattle while excluding badgers. Exclusion of badgers from cattle troughs therefore requires the development of new trough designs.


Badgers; Cattle; Cattle troughs; Bovine tuberculosis; Foraging

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