Bovine tuberculosis in pigs – badgers

The key to reducing the risk of pig herds being infected with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) from badgers is to stop infected badgers from coming into contact with your pigs and pig feed.

Practical biosecurity

  • Access to feed and stored grain should be denied wherever possible. Badgers can easily climb 3 feet (91 cm), especially if the surfaces provide grip, such as concrete
  • If doors and gateways are more than 3 inches (8 cm) off the ground, a badger can get under them. If the floor is soft, a badger can scrape under a gate, so modification with plastic strips or electric fencing is required. Ensure all grain stores have doors that shut flush together
  • Keep up good housekeeping around the feed-bin areas and consider feed-dust-extraction cyclones. Ensure the flow of ad-lib feeders is correct and that nothing is broken
  • Keep well-maintained fox-fence-type electric fencing around the most vulnerable areas of your outdoor unit, i.e. the farrowing paddocks, especially if you have ad-lib feeding. Research conducted by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) showed that electric fence wires should be placed at 10 cm, 15 cm, 20 cm and 30 cm intervals to be effective
  • Spray weeds regularly and walk paddocks weekly to check for signs of disturbance or digging
  • Other vulnerable areas include paddocks situated next to wooded areas as these could contain badger setts
  • Other fencing that has greatly reduced mammalian predators in farrowing paddocks is the use of netting positioned 1 foot from the main electric fence
  • Keeping badger populations away from farrowing areas is critical. If fencing is not an option, try not to straw up the farrowing arcs too long before the sows move in, as the warm, dry bedding is inviting to badgers. In addition, keep ad-lib feeders well maintained and don’t allow waste to sit in empty paddocks
  • If you share any livestock vehicles with cattle producers, make sure they are washed and disinfected prior to use on the pig unit
  • The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 does not grant any rights, it creates various criminal offences – it is an offence to take, kill, injure or commit cruelty to badgers or interfere with badger setts
  • UV light inactivates bTB, but this is not a foolproof method of eliminating it
Biosecurity on pig farms Back to Bovine tuberculosis in pigs