Since 2008 over 250,000 cattle have been culled as a result of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). It is a problem that can completely devastate a farm and sometimes farming businesses can’t recover. The disease is incredibly infectious and not only affects cattle but also badgers, deer, goats, pigs as well as dogs and cats and many other mammals. The spread of bovine TB has reached dangerous levels and is significantly risking the farming industry, particularly dairy farmers.
The infection of bovine TB is still an incredibly contentious topic. However, there is an undeniable link of reinfection between cattle and badgers. Regardless of the disease causes, badger controls are a clear way to stop the cycle of reinfection.
For every farm that has cattle with bTB, the costs are astronomical. On average, each farm with bTB costs around £34,000 through slaughtered animals, bTB tests and movement restrictions. While the Government does compensate farms, a significant proportion of this must be paid by the farmer, often leading to the breakdown of the estate as a whole.
With the cost and pedigree livestock at risk, it is important that farms do all they can to protect their land and livelihood, and one way to do this is through badger-proofing your farm. Read on for five of the steps you can take to stop badgers affecting your farming.
- Locate The Badgers
In order to protect your farm, you need to identify if and where the problem lies. Look for signs of badgers. Sett entrances are usually D-shaped, and an active sett will be smooth with fresh bedding nearby, you may also find footprints and freshly moved soil. Setts can be expansive, so check your whole site to see how big the sett is. Now you know the home of the badgers, you can move your cattle away from the danger areas.
- Badgers In Buildings
When it is cold outside, badgers may retreat to your warm and sheltered hay barn for refuge. To keep badgers out, you need to make sure that all areas of the building are solid with no gaps for badgers. Ensure that buildings, doors and gates are comprised of a smooth material that is at least 1.5m high so that badgers cannot climb over. Metal or plywood are the best materials to use.
- Gate Measures
Badgers are big but incredibly nimble and have been known to squeeze through tiny gaps to get what they want. Check your gates and ensure there is never more than a 7.5cm gap to keep the badgers out. The surface under the gate needs to be hard too, otherwise, a badger will dig underneath.
- Protect Feed
One of the main reasons for the spread of bTB is contaminated feed, make sure your stored feed is kept in secure containers that can’t be accessed in any way by badgers. Waste feed should be removed quickly so that it doesn’t attract badgers. Badgers are incredibly clever and will often find a way of getting to what they want.
- Exclusion Fencing
It is an expensive measure, but one of the most successful badger-proofing mechanisms is permanent and electric fencing. Providing there are no badgers on your land already, secure fencing with strands of wire at close intervals can significantly help to keep the badgers out.
If you’re happy with the construction of your badger proofing and are ready to add to your pedigree livestock, then look no further than Fowler Tull; a comprehensive directory of pedigree livestock breeders.