Royal Agricultural University trials TB Buster biosecurity measure

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has just completed a three month trial assessing the effectiveness of the TB Buster in preventing badger access to mineral lick buckets.  

Local farmer Alan Hughes, inventor of the TB Buster has designed the tailored mineral lick holder to prevent contact between badgers and cattle and improve biosecurity against bovine tuberculosis. The measure stands at 70cm tall, consists of a vertical post screwed into the ground using an auger, and can hold various sizes of mineral lick bucket.

Alan comments: “Vets are constantly telling us to raise our mineral buckets to stop badgers eating our profits. Yet, I couldn’t find any suitable products on the market so I made one the way farmers like products – easy and practical to use and built to last a lifetime. I am very pleased with the RAU study and look forward to working with them again in the future.”

It is well recognised that biosecurity is an important component of effective disease control, and thus it is essential to establish the practicality and most importantly, the effectiveness of various on-farm measures. Such trials are therefore essential if farmer uptake of biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of bovine tuberculosis is to increase.

The three month trial aimed to provide robust scientific evidence to assess the effectiveness and practicality of the TB Buster; monitoring badger interaction and cattle interaction with the measure on two separate farm sites. Night vision, motion sensing cameras were used to monitor activity and interaction with the TB Buster.

Throughout the duration of the three month trial, badgers were found to be unable to access the mineral lick holder held by the TB Buster, whereas badgers regularly accessed a conventional mineral lick bucket. Additionally, the trial established that once secured, the TB Buster can withhold substantial interaction from cattle, including cattle leaning against the stand and using it as a scratching post.

Dr Rhiannon Fisher, project leader and lecturer in Rural Land Use and Management at the RAU, said “This was a very interesting study and provides evidence of an effective measure that can be used by farmers to reduce contact between badgers and cattle on grazing land.”

Following monitoring of activity and analysis of data, the RAU research team concluded that over the three month period, the TB Buster was successful in preventing badgers from accessing the contents of the mineral lick bucket, and is practical and durable to use with cattle.

The Royal Agricultural University is also undertaking a wider study which involves trialling a range of biosecurity measures, with the aim of providing practical and cost effective advice to farmers. For more information visit the Research and Consultancy pages of RAUs website.