Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

An experiment to assess the cost-effectiveness of farm husbandry manipulations to reduce risks associated with farmyard contact between badgers and cattle - SE3119

Recent research at the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) has identified visits to farm buildings by badgers (Meles meles) as potentially important in the transmission of Mycobacterium bovis (the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis) to cattle. DEFRA-funded project SE3029, undertaken at the CSL indicated that this may be a common and widespread problem on cattle farms throughout the south west of England and that certain farm husbandry characteristics may influence the frequency of visits. Experimental investigation of husbandry practices to reduce badger visits to farm buildings has been recommended by the Independent Husbandry Panel and the Godfray Review.

The proposed project aims to identify and measure the benefits and costs associated with two broad husbandry practices by manipulating them on a series of farms within a factorial experiment. Each measure may achieve a different result. Therefore, an investment appraisal will be conducted to identify and estimate the potential benefits and costs of each husbandry practice. The benefits derived from each measure, both in isolation and in combination with others, will be assessed as the ability to affect a change in the frequency of badger visits to farmyard resources and quantify the effect this has on the risk of badger-cattle interactions (both direct and indirect) as a result of farmyard modifications. This will allow estimation of the benefits (valued in £GB) of disease exposure risk-reduction methods. Wider social benefits (e.g. potential benefits to farming communities) will be identified from an extensive literature review and discussions with the NFU and DEFRA. The cost –effectiveness of the manipulations will be analysed using profitability indicators such as net present value (NPV), benefit:cost ratio and internal rate of return. Risk and uncertainty will be assessed via sensitivity analysis.

The results will be directly relevant to DEFRA’s policy on controlling TB in cattle by providing a quantified estimate of the benefits produced through improved farm husbandry methods. This will also be of direct benefit to the farming community who will be provided with information on which to make informed judgements on whether and how to invest in improved husbandry methods to reduce risks to herd health.
The proposed project will answer three fundamental questions about the costs and benefits associated with husbandry manipulations.1) What husbandry measures are effective at reducing or preventing badger visits to farm buildings? 2) What economic costs are associated with each measure? 3) How cost –effective is each measure?
Project Documents
• Final Report : SE3119 Final Report   (6644k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2009

Cost: £1,042,493
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Animal Health              
Bovine Tuberculosis              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Health