NFU and Badger Trust join forces on vaccination project

THE NFU and the Badger Trust have formed an unlikely alliance on a project to vaccinate badgers for bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

NFU chief farm policy adviser John Royle and Badger Trust director Simon Boulter have agreed a joint project in which the badgers will be vaccinated on two farms owned by NFU members. 

In addition, the Badger Trust has identified five other landowners around the UK wishing to vaccinate badgers and is working independently with them as part of the initial trial project.

Vaccination on all seven farms started in October after surveys were carried out to identify active badger setts and licences have been granted by Natural England. The vaccination project will run until the end of November 2011 and resume in May 2012.

It is hoped that the two programmes, although small in scale, will help to identify whether the injectable vaccination of badgers is practical and cost effective.

The NFU and the Badger Trust said they would continue to encourage research and development into an orally-delivered badger vaccine. 

The NFU and Badger Trust have repeatedly clashed over the years on the relative merits of badger culling and badger vaccination as approaches to controlling bTB in wildlife and cattle.

Mr Royle said: “We are pleased that the NFU and the Badger Trust have successfully liaised to facilitate this joint project, sharing equipment and resources as necessary, despite having differing views on the degree to which badgers are implicated in the transmission of bovine Tuberculosis.”

Mr Boulter said:  “We hope that with the use of volunteers to help with the work of surveying, trap-setting and pre-baiting, we can successfully implement an effective badger vaccination programme.”

Two NFU members, including Mr Royle, and five members of groups affiliated to the Badger Trust attended and passed badger vaccination courses run by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). This enables them to obtain the necessary certificate of competence as lay vaccinators, qualifying them to inject badgers with the BCG vaccine.

The Government is expected to make a final announcement before Christmas on whether to give the go ahead to two proposed pilot badger culls next year.

Readers' comments (47)

  • We absolutely must address bTB in the wildlife reservoir. We have a licensed vaccine and we must get on and use the supplies before they expire and regardless of your views on culling, I ask you to support John and Simon in this project. We need to know a lot more about how this vaccine will work in the field. I comend them both for doing this!

    Good luck,


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  • If all the farms involved have vulnerable cattle herds and are presently clear of bTB, this does make some sense, though I still question the practicality and financial viability of a similar scheme nationally. . But, if any of these farms have a breakdown, all setts anywhere in the vicinity will need to be immediately cleared, or it just becomes a farce. . . I too sincerely wish them all, 'Good Luck'.

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  • At last the 2 sides are talking...jaw jaw not war war. Badger Trust have put their money up front and paid for the training of volunteers to vaccinate and have many more willing members waiting in the wings to also train. At least give this a go and stop planning to slaughter badgers and gain nothing but public outrage and give farmers an even worse reputation

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  • Reminder: setts cannot be cleared , that would be illegal .

    It's goods to hear that badger vaccination is being attempted , and encouraging that the NFU is willing to communicate reasonably with the Badger Trust.

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  • Jane, you demonstrate the real problem here admirably. . You only ever seem to see the death of badgers; never the continual unnecessary infection and slaughter of our farmers' cattle. . The manual vaccination of badgers in the wild can never realistically, be a solution. . An alternative method is still decades away. . Vaccinating cattle with an attenuated; much less than 100% effective; BCG vaccine, would mean financial suicide in the world market place. .

    Clearing setts without authority would be illegal. . Vaccinating cattle would be financial suicide. . ..We obviously need a change in the law.

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  • No health risk these days, thanks to pasteurised milk; a relatively small export market in cattle which is being over zealously protected and, as ever, the subsidised farmer--who won't commit to a rigorous testing regime and still wants to buy dody cattle from dodgy farms with a long history of outbreaks --still wants massive compensation paid for by the taxpayer at large. Let's get the balance right Mr Henry (assuming you are a real person). That said, this is a project to be welcomed. Just give it a chance--and meanwhile take a long look at the latest research that shows some cattle are especially vulnerable (or so it seems) to bovine TB. It is a nonsense to suggest that slaughtering thousands of UNINFECTED badgers is a logical, sensible way forward.The few infected ones are NOT the problem.

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  • You are a very sad person Anonymous. . With the skin test we were at the stage where only 500 or so reactors had to be slaughtered. . Badgers were far, far fewer in number and sightings were a rarity. . . People like you caused this problem with your constant denial of the badgers culpability and ultimately getting them protected. . And now you even deny their suffering. . Uninfected??? . . When were all these badgers ever tested??. . Mr. . Reactors are NOT SICK CATTLE. . They are animals that have met with the disease and may go on to develop it. . You really don't know what you are talking about.

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  • And Anonymous, watch this film.

    "Bovine TB - A Way Forward."

    Try and learn something and get the nastiness out of your system will you? . We might start getting somewhere.

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  • Vaccination of badgers is one tool in the toolkit for removing this disease from cattle and from wildlife. To be an effective tool, we need to know much more about the practicalities of using it so these projects are to be welcomed.

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  • If these trials are an opportunity to see if a vaccine will produce a solution to this problem then it should be welcomed by both the farmers and wildlife enthusiasts.

    It may not be the complete answer but it is a step in the right direction which is all we can ask for.


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