Skip to content

Preventing contact with badgers

Related Links

if you've seen a term you don't understand, please check here for an explanation.

Good biosecurity practices are important in reducing the risk of infection from bovine TB.

Infection from badgers

The spread of bovine TB is complicated by the fact that wildlife, such as badgers, can also be infected. Cattle and wildlife can infect each other.

Research has shown that badgers frequently visit farm buildings and come into close contact with housed cattle. Certain cattle foods such as maize or whole crop silage, molasses licks and mineral blocks are particularly attractive to badgers. Some farming systems can make it easy for badgers to access feed, which can greatly increase the risk of TB being introduced into herds.

There are common sense, precautionary measures you can take to help protect your herd from possible TB infection from badgers.

Feed stores, cattle accommodation and farmyard

  • the use of solid gates / fences or electric fencing can help keep badgers out of buildings
  • any gaps between gates and fences and the ground should be less than 7.5cm; otherwise a badger will be able to get underneath it
  • if the floor surface is soft, a determined badger will scrape away at it, until the gap is big enough to get underneath
  • gates and walls should be at least 1.5 meters high. They should be sheer. If there are any potential footholds, a badger will be able to climb it
  • electric fencing should have 3 strands at 10cm, 15cm, and 20cm (with an optional 4th strand at 30cm)
  • badgers will frequently return to investigate areas even if they have been unable to gain access in the past.

At pasture

  • be aware of high risk areas e.g. badger latrines and active setts. A permanent or temporary fence should be considered to prevent opportunities for contact
  • intensive / extended grazing may encourage cattle to feed at the edge of the field where there is a greater risk of contamination from badger faeces and urine at badger latrines
  • avoid allowing cattle access to woodland
  • it is very difficult to badger-proof feed-troughs at pasture. Feed troughs in the field should be made more difficult for badgers to access them e.g. by raising them off the ground or using troughs which incorporate rollers around their edges
  • feed troughs can become contaminated by wildlife. Keep an eye out for such signs and clean feed troughs out regularly
  • molasses licks & mineral blocks should be made more difficult for badgers to access them e.g. raising them off the ground.

Improving farm biosecurity videos

There is a series of videos demonstrating practical on-farm biosecurity measures to reduce bovine TB risks to cattle from wildlife. The videos have been jointly funded by Welsh Government, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the National Animal Disease Information System (NADIS). The videos are available below: