South West TB Farm Advisory Service Report.

This is the report from South West TB Farm Advisory Service carried out recently. I think it is really important to continuingly look at what we can do on farm to reduce the risk of bTB spreading to cattle

. My hands are tied to control the source of infection in wildlife (Badgers) so all I can do with Biosecurity I must, in the desperate hope that I can continue breeding and finishing cattle at ManorFarm.

I have not included the map from the survey for security reasons. It shows : 5 ACTIVE SETTS 3 INACTIVE SETTS AND 5 LATRINES (OVER 260 ACRES).There are more but because cereals have not been harvested and HLS margins are waste high it is not possible to see all activity.

Many thanks to Sophie James for a first class service from South West TB Farm Advisory Service.
Recommendations for Manor Farm.
1. Biosecurity at Pasture
1.1 – Badger Activity
The survey found a relatively high level of badger activity at Manor Farm, including setts, latrines, runs and rooting – please see survey map attached. There was some level of activity in every area of the farm. Not all activity will have been identified as the farm is in Higher Level Stewardship and extensively grazed, with areas including buffer strips concealing badger activity. This can also make implementing biosecurity at pasture more difficult, in terms of fencing areas of potential infection, including latrines. I would advise remaining vigilant for areas of activity. There was only one area of rooting, this is to be expected with such dry weather.
1.2 – Setts/Latrines
Three of the badger setts (S 1/3, S 0/4, S 0/3 – inactive) were found to encroach on potential grazing grounds. I do not believe that S 1/3 is in regular use but due to the close proximity of the road sett and other activity, I would consider fencing cattle away from this. I would recommend fencing cattle away from the other setts, should they be re-opened and I would advise remaining vigilant for this if grazing these fields. There were a number of latrines identified on the survey but given the number of active setts, there will be more that have not been identified. This is to be expected, as discussed above. Only one latrine was found on grazing ground (L 4/4). I would recommend fencing cattle away from badger latrines if identified in grazing fields, or avoid mowing over if silaging, as they can be potential sources of infection.
1.3 – Feeding
Mineral blocks can be particularly attractive to badgers and are currently fed at pasture, although away from areas of known activity – although as discussed, this is difficult given the level of badger activity on the farm. I would urge you to use mineral lick holders, which should raise the mineral blocks to at least 90 cm from the ground to prevent badger access. There are several mineral lick holders now available to buy, or other farmers have created their own using scrap materials – as previously discussed.
Supplementary feed is occassionally fed at grazing depending on different factors. This is given in raised troughs which should limit the potential for badger access. The only further measure would be to add rollers to the troughs which again, makes access more difficult for the badgers. I would remain vigilant for signs that badgers have been accessing troughs when in use, for example scratch marks and prints. There is a calf creep feeder at pasture, which is rarely used and may not be used in future. The only way to completely secure calf creep feeders in my experience, is to add a lid which can be closed at night to prevent badger access.
There was no evidence of badgers using the limited number of water troughs at Manor Farm. This is unsurprising given the availability of natural water sources. I would still recommend remaining vigilant for scratches or badger footprints on or around water troughs. It is good practice to cleanse and disinfect troughs regularly if using them for cattle.
1.4 – Cattle to cattle
There is no opportunity for nose to nose contact with cattle from neighbouring herds.
2. Biosecurity for Farm Buildings
2.1 Badger Activity
As stated above, there was some level of badger activity in every area of the farm, including close to the different farm buildings. I would advise having cameras to monitor the buildings when cattle are housed and to consider biosecurity measures that could be implemented, as discussed.

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4 thoughts on “South West TB Farm Advisory Service Report.

  1. “There is no opportunity for nose to nose contact with cattle from neighbouring herds”

    David: That is the most important outcome of this survey.

    Sophie concentrated on latrines and setts, but urine dribbled indiscriminately is as big if not bigger risk to cattle. They will sniff and even lick it.
    Badgers with kidney lesions can void up to 300,000 units of bacteria in 1ml of urine and up to 30ml is dribbled in trails across your grassland? The PQs which Owen Paterson tabled as shadow minister gave us the answer that just 70 units are needed to provoke disease if sniffed. And that has been updated to 1unit in a calf.
    Details here:
    http://bovinetb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/how-much-is-enough.html

    The height of feeders is crucial as badgers have been filmed climbing into troughs at 4’3″ off the ground. Too high for cattle to feed. (Tim Roper 2001)

    The creep feeder with fold down lid is made by Bateman’s, developed to our design. They do work – provided these ‘shy, nocturnal animals’ which feed on earthworms are not around in the day of course.

    In practice, ‘bio security’ in your situation is a comfort blanket dreamed up by a desk bound bean counter. You can control the bio security within your cattle herd, and testing very 60 days weeds out the sentinels of a much wider problem which when your cattle are at grass, this type of fluff won’t make a dent in.

    And this is why:
    http://bovinetb.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/air-brushing.html

    So Sophie’s conclusion told you nothing you didn’t know already:
    “… there was some level of badger activity in every area of the farm, including close to the different farm buildings.”

    Cameras are good, but after the event I think. You may be surprised at how adept a hungry or sick badger is at accessing ‘food’; and that includes all types of cattle food.

    Do we really want to farm cattle housed in hermetically sealed boxes? Because that is what ‘bio-garbage’ really means.

    Kind regards.

    • Thanks for the message, I do feel it’s important I look and continue to look at what I can do to reduce bTB on farm. No big surprises in the report, but have looked and revaluated the situation that’s important as I have strong views and am very clear about how this problem should be tackled ,but I will not become polarised as too many have and will always keep an open mind.
      Very useful links on your message would encourage others to view.
      Many thanks Pat

  2. If badgers are NOT infected and infectious wrt M.bovis, then all this biosecurity is a waste of time. If badgers ARE infected and infectious then they need to be got rid of – simples!

    Talk about a gravy train – grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  3. You know, it would be very nice indeed if instead of persisting with the known-ineffective BCG vaccine in badgers, the vaccination lot instead started trialling a contraceptive vaccine. Now, compared to turning up to a badger sett in broad daylight with a carbon monoxide generator and gassing the entire sett this is notably inefficient, but if these badger-loving nitwits cannot bear to do the decent thing and actually start eradicating the disease, then at least mitigating the problem would help.

    The old World War II producer gas generators are known to efficiently produce carbon monoxide, and the known inefficiencies of gassing can be overcome by the old principle of bucket chemistry; where a little works well, a lot will work so much better.

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