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The presence of supplementary food at pasture may increase the likelihood of badgers coming into contact with your livestock. Infected badgers can excrete M. bovis through various routes: sputum, urine, faeces and discharges from wounds. Disease transmission to cattle may occur via direct contact with badgers or indirect contact with material contaminated by badger excretions.
If you need to feed cattle at grazing, there are measures you can take to make feed troughs less attractive to badgers and more difficult for them to access.
When feeding cattle at pasture, only use the amount that is needed for the day, so that there won’t be any left for badgers at night. Feed troughs should be raised as high as possible with sheer sides and no footholds to make it difficult for badgers to gain access. Troughs should be cleaned and disinfected regularly to prevent residue building up, which may be attractive to badgers.
Avoid feeding cattle from ground or low level troughs as these are easily accessible to badgers and have the potential to harbour infection if accessed.
Badger in ground level feed trough at pasture.
Mineral licks are attractive to badgers and therefore should not be fed on the ground. Mineral lick holders can be made or are available to buy. They should be raised as high as possible and have sheer sides and no footholds. Some versions can be attached to gates or suspended from trees. Research carried out by the South West TB Farm Advisory Service found that badgers were prevented from accessing mineral licks which were raised a minimum of 90 cm off the ground.
Where possible, feed troughs and mineral licks should be placed away from areas of known badger activity. It is also recommended that you restrict cattle access to areas such as badger setts and latrines, which could contain infectious material.
Use mains water if possible and prevent access of badgers to water troughs. Non-mains water sources may be potentially contaminated by infected livestock or badgers, if these are present in the area. This risk is likely to be greater in the High Risk Area. Mains water should be used wherever possible. Stagnant ponds and other areas where wildlife may drink should be fenced off.
As badgers can gain access to water troughs, consider similar precautions as described for feed troughs, i.e. raise troughs as high as possible with sheer sides and no footholds. Troughs should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to minimise the risk of cattle been exposed to contaminated water.
Access the list of Defra-approved disinfectants for TB