Grazing cattle exposure to neighbouring herds and badgers in relation to bovine tuberculosis risk
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) can be spread between and among cattle and wildlife hosts e.g. European badger (Meles meles). The majority of cattle in the UK and Ireland are grazed during the summer, potentially exposing them to Mycobacterium bovis. 18 farms were surveyed (39% dairy, 61% beef; fields n = 697) for one grazing season (May-November 2016, n = 148,461 field days) to quantify the co-occurrence of cattle with badger setts and latrines and adjacency to neighbouring cattle herds. 3% (n = 24) of the fields had a badger sett or latrine recorded, dairy cattle were significantly more likely to co-occur with badger setts and latrines than beef cattle. Most farms (89%) grazed cattle adjacent to a neighbouring herd, which accounted for 18% of the grazing season. Potential exposure to neighbouring herds did not differ between production systems but did vary between life stages. A significant positive association between the proportion of time cattle spent grazing fields with setts present and the historic 1-, 3- and 5- year bTB status (p = 0.007, p = 0.013 and p = 0.013 respectively) was found. However, when cattle were grazed in fields with latrines, a significant negative association was found between the proportion of time cattle spent grazing fields with latrines present and the historic 3- and 5- year bTB status (p = 0.033 and p = 0.012 respectively). Historic bTB status and percentage of days spent beside a neighbouring herd was unrelated. Idiosyncrasies at farm-level and between risk factors indicated that individual farm assessments would be beneficial to understand potential exposure risk.
Publication history: Accepted - 28 September 2020; Published online - 30 September 2020.
Badgers, Biosecurity, Bovine tuberculosis, Disease control, Mycobacterium bovis
Campbell, E. L., Menzies, F. D., Byrne, A. W., Porter, S., McCormick, C. M., McBride, K. R., Scantlebury, D. M. and Reid, N. (2020) ‘Grazing cattle exposure to neighbouring herds and badgers in relation to bovine tuberculosis risk’, Research in Veterinary Science. Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2020.09.032.