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.