Farming News - RABDF encouraged by latest badger cull report showing its positive effect on reducing TB

RABDF encouraged by latest badger cull report showing its positive effect on reducing TB

14 Oct 2019
Frontdesk / Livestock

The recent peer reviewed Downs et al. (2019) report has investigated the effects of the first four years of the industry-led badger cull and its incidence on bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

Latest badger cull report shows initiative is having positive effect on reducing TB

The RABDF are encouraged by the results and the effect industry-led culling is having on the reduction of TB breakdowns in cattle.

The research involved a study into the original three licensed cull areas – Gloucester, Somerset and Dorset – using data from 2013 – 2017 and compared the rate of new TB breakdowns in cull areas to rates in matched comparison areas with no culling, taking into account multivariable factors such as historical levels of TB, badger density and % of dairy herds.

These analyses show that after four years of culling we are seeing significant reductions in TB incidence rates. A drop of 66% in the TB incidence in the Gloucestershire cull zone and 37% reduction in Somerset. As expected there was no change recorded in Dorset as this is only two years into the cull programme.

The badger cull is an important part of the DEFRA 25 year TB eradication strategy, allowing the reservoir of disease that exists within the wildlife to be significantly reduced and therefore restrict its transfer from badgers to cattle. RABDF would also encourage livestock farmers to utilise all appropriate biosecurity measures such as raising water troughs and preventing badger access to stock and feed stores whilst also thinking carefully about the risks associated with trading practices.

TB is a devastating disease affecting cattle in this country with the untold emotional impact of cattle being slaughtered and herds being shut down leading to significant mental health problems across the industry.

Whilst such scientific results are promising, Further information on a range of TB topics can be found at www.tbhub.co.uk

A factsheet produced by the authors summarising the findings is available on the TB hub at https://tbhub.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/factsheet-badger-culling-downs-et-al-summary.pdf

The full scientific paper can be accessed online at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-49957-6