TB Biosecurity Actions

Many of you have enjoyed a free TB Advisory visit over the past year and we’d love to hear back from you with any alterations that you have managed to put in place!

Share this post

For those of you who have not managed to fit one in, do not despair – this month we have included a one-stop shop for environmental bTB biosecurity recommendations.

With a lot of herds now in the midst of turnout, it is well worth thinking about what you can do to minimise your risk of introducing a new bTB infection into your herd whilst the cows are out. There are a lot of ways to reduce the risk, from straightforward measures through to slightly more involved strategies.

Housing – Shut The doors & Reduce The Gaps!

The measures below have been tested by APHA in a 2 year DEFRA funded study and were found to be 100%effective in keeping badgers from buildings, as long as kept shut at night and, as with all farm equipment, maintained regularly.

Now is a perfect time to make those alterations to housing without so many interfering ‘helpers’…

Gates/Doors

  • Maximum gap 7.5cm underneath – badgers can squeeze under a gap of 10cm!
  • Minimum height of solid section of gate (i.e. not mesh/bars) more than 120cm.
  • Watch the vertical gaps between hinge and gate – these should be less than 7.5cm.
  • Make sure you make measurements on level ground.

Indoor Water/Feed Troughs

  • Water supply – mains water is safest to reduce risk of ingestion of bTB – it can survive in water for 20-60 days depending on conditions.
  • Clean troughs regularly!
  • Trough lip height- minimum of 90cm, this may deter badger visits but will not prevent them.
  • Heights above 120cm greatly reduce the chance of badger access.

Feed/Grain Stores

  • These are not biosecure if left open!
  • Close grain stores at night – many already have a roller shutter door in place.
  • Install a bulk feed bin for feed normally left in open bags:
    • APHA found in a 2 year DEFRA study that feed bins with closable lids were 100%effective in keeping badgers from cattle feed.
    • Ideal bins are of a suitable size for bags of ordered feed (i.e. bulk bags (L) 1340mm x (D) 1260mm x (H) 1060mm), have a secure lid with hinges and are made of a smooth material that badgers cannot climb up.

Grassland

Mineral Licks

  • If bolus use does not suit your system, a mineral lick stand should be used to provide safe access for cattle at grass
    • Stands should be more than 90cm off the ground and made from a solid material badgers cannot climb.
    • They should be robust and stable if pushed by cattle.

Outdoor Feed/Water Troughs

  • Cattle must not be fed from floor, only in troughs.
  • The same height rules apply as above, with regular cleaning and covering when not in use even more important outside!
  • Badger exclusion feed troughs can be used to prevent badger access outdoors:
    • These include external roller bars to prevent climbing.

Cattle Electric Fencing

  • Reduce the chances of cattle coming into contact with potentially infectious materials (badger faeces/urine) or grazing in areas where badger activity is increased (near badger setts/ latrines) by using standard stock fencing.
  • It is advised that cattle are kept a minimum distance of 3m away from setts/latrines as badgers may scent mark/ urinate around these areas.

Badger Electric Fencing

  • This will prevent badgers from accessing yards, edges of silage clamps, clusters of buildings/ yards and reduce opportunities for contact with cattle feed/ water and cattle in general.
  • The low, 4 strand electric fencing can be made with handles and connections to accommodate gates and allow access points for cattle/farm machinery.
  • Measurements:
    • Wire at heights of 10cm, 15cm, 20cm and 30cm from the ground with posts closely spaced to 10cm prevent sagging.
      APHA have tested this form of fencing over a 2-year study and have found this to be effective in completely protecting large areas of the farm, but this does require proper maintenance.

This article only covers a small selection of improvements available to build the environmental biosecurity of your farm with respect to bovine TB. For further advice please contact us at the practice or visit TBHub for further biosecurity information.

Watch this space for further TB articles to come!

Out of hours emergency

Save money with our VIP Club!

Join our VIP Pet Club and get great discounts on your pet’s routine preventative healthcare in easy monthly payments.

Join today