Effectiveness of biosecurity measures in preventing badger visits to farm buildings

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BACKGROUND: Bovine tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis is a serious and economically important disease of cattle. Badgers have been implicated in the transmission and maintenance of the disease in the UK since the 1970s. Recent studies have provided substantial evidence of widespread and frequent visits by badgers to farm buildings during which there is the potential for close direct contact with cattle and contamination of cattle feed.<br /><br />METHODOLOGY: Here we evaluated the effectiveness of simple exclusion measures in improving farm biosecurity and preventing badger visits to farm buildings. In the first phase of the study, 32 farms were surveyed using motion-triggered infrared cameras on potential entrances to farm buildings to determine the background level of badger visits experienced by each farm. In the second phase, they were divided into four treatment groups; "Control", "Feed Storage", "Cattle Housing" and "Both", whereby no exclusion measures were installed, exclusion measures were installed on feed storage areas only, cattle housing only or both feed storage and cattle housing, respectively. Badger exclusion measures included sheet metal gates, adjustable metal panels for gates, sheet metal fencing, feed bins and electric fencing. Cameras were deployed for at least 365 nights in each phase on each farm.<br /><br />RESULTS: Badger visits to farm buildings occurred on 19 of the 32 farms in phase one. In phase two, the simple exclusion measures were 100% effective in preventing badger entry into farm buildings, as long as they were appropriately deployed. Furthermore, the installation of exclusion measures also reduced the level of badger visits to the rest of the farmyard. The findings of the present study clearly demonstrate how relatively simple practical measures can substantially reduce the likelihood of badger visits to buildings and reduce some of the potential for contact and disease transmission between badgers and cattle.




Judge, J., McDonald, R. A., Walker, N., & Delahay, R. J. (2011). Effectiveness of biosecurity measures in preventing badger visits to farm buildings. PLoS ONE, 6(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028941

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