DEFRA video helps farmers with bovine TB risk

DEFRA has released a video giving farmers advice on how to reduce the risks of bovine tuberculosis.

The video, which will be used at training events across the country, cites real farm situations and offers practical advice on taking proactive measures to minimise disease transmission.

It is presented by Jo Judge, a wildlife biologist for the Food and Environment Research Agency and a specialist in wildlife disease control.

The video by FERA is based on a three-year observational study into the behaviour of badgers and the spread of TB between badgers and cattle, at 40 farms in Gloucestershire- a TB hotspot.

It looks at key areas including biosecurity, husbandry and pasture management.

It also provides advice on how to observe local badger activity to ensure that farmers choose measures that will work best for them.

Infection is transmitted from badgers to cattle both indirectly and directly, through coughing, sneezing, licking and biting, as well as through contaminated urine and faeces.

Dr Judge said: “Inhalation is the primary route of transmission, although consumption of contaminated material is also important.”

Key tips for reducing contact include:

•           Avoid using fields with badger activity. Instead graze less susceptible animals in those pastures or use them for arable

•           Only put out the amount of feed required for the day, to prevent leaving waste and attracting badgers in the evening

•           Making sure badgers access to silage pits and feed areas are restricted

The level of bTB in England and Wales has been rising for the last 25 years.

The last badger survey in 1997 showed there were 325,000 badgers living in the UK, but with no natural predators this figure is believed to have risen.

In the south west and west Midlands up to 30 per cent of badgers are infected.

Dr Judge added: “When TB progresses to the latter stages it leads to emaciation and death.”

DEFRA farm minister Jim Paice said: “Good wildlife biosecurity will help to reduce the risk of cattle getting TB, and this video will help ensure famers have the most up-to-date advice to take simple and effective steps.”

The training video is jointly funded by DEFRA, NFU, the Welsh Government and the National Animal Disease Information Service.

Watch the video here.


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