TB Free England

Bovine TB (bTB) devastates thousands of farming family businesses every year and tens of thousands of cattle are culled annually in England because of it. Find out more about bTB, its impact, and why we must use all available options to make England TB free.

 Cattle culled in England because of bovine TB since January 1 2008

This week's TB Myth-buster

Myths and misconceptions busted this week:

Costs of the pilot culls...

There have been claims made online that the costs to shoot a badger during the 2013 cull will be £2,830 per badger. This is incorrect.  This figure may have been taken from the Defra cost benefit analysis which is the cost per km², not per badger. Click here for source information.

Associated costs of controlled shooting and carcass disposal will be borne by the industry, not by the taxpayer. The costs of controlled shooting and carcass disposal, for instance, will work out at £30 per badger – a cost borne by the company itself . It is worth remembering that the Randomised badger cull was a ‘scientific trial’ delivered by Government. The proposed policy will be delivered and paid for by industry.

Vaccination is cheaper than a badger cull...

This is incorrect. £662 is the cost of vaccinating a badger for one year only. This needs to be repeated for at least five years in high incidence areas to build up social group immunity. The Welsh Assembly has just completed its first year vaccinating badgers in the Pembrokeshire hotspot area. Costs per badger are likely to run to £662 per year for five years – a total of £3,310 per badger.

Only 50 per cent of cattle are tested annually...

This has increased. An estimated 61% of all cattle in England will be tested annually from 2013. This is up from 49% in 2012. Testing is risk-based, we test more in areas where the disease is found in badgers. 100% of cattle in TB hotspot areas are scheduled for annual testing. Ref: http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/foodfarm/landuselivestock/cattletb/other/

Cattle, badgers and bovine TB...

There is misreporting about the link between cattle, badgers and TB. To be clear, 30 to 75% (50%) of all TB herd incidents are linked to/caused by infected badgers. TB herd incidence in Gloucestershire, for example, is 16.22% where disease is found in badgers. Move to North Yorkshire where the badgers are largely free of the disease and this becomes a 0.12% herd incidence of TB in cattle.

Defra states that 30 to 75% of incidents can be attributed to badger to cattle transmission. It also reiterates this suggesting that the 75% of breakdowns which are not cattle movement-based can be attributed to ‘local’ transmission in high risk areas – badgers.

Vaccination 'versus' culling...

Vaccination is part of the government package to control bovine TB. Together with badger controls and cattle controls this policy will reduce TB in cattle.

However vaccination alone will not work. For example the Welsh Government’s vaccination programme has been deployed during 2012 and yet TB incidence has gone up in Wales by around .17%. TB incidence also went up in 2011 in Gloucestershire despite vaccinating badgers and the number of animals slaughtered due to TB went up in Gloucestershire last year. Click here for source information

Do badgers have TB?

Across the Gloucestershire triplets of the RBCT culls, the average prevalence of TB in the badgers culled between 2002 and 2005 was 24.5%.

Of the badgers culled in the RBCT trials (all areas) which were infected with TB, an average of 44% had visible lesions, and nearly 14% were “severely lesioned”. The same report (4.25 page 77) also says that “…animals with only mild (or no detectable) pathology may be able to transmit infection”.