andygates: (badger)
[personal profile] andygates
I've been trying to get my head around the numbers involved in the bovine TB drama.  The take-home number from the Government's Randomised Badger Cull Trial (the Krebs trial) is a reduction of up to 16% in bovine TB after nine years of culling.

Let's say you've got a medium-large dairy herd, 200 cattle.  Let's say you have really bad TB, and 10% a year are culled as TB "reactors" (cattle that react to the test).  20 cattle per year.  At the end of a decade of culling badgers across your land by the Krebs method, you have 17 reactors: 16% is really lost in the rounding on such small numbers.  So you spend nine years culling on your land, hiring people to do it, faffing with paperwork, dealing with saboteurs, and after all that you've saved three cows a year? 

That can't be worth the effort. 

It gets worse.  The cull method that DEFRA propose isn't the Krebs method: it's widely agreed to be less effective.  It's not been tested, but instead of trapping it goes for wild shooting with ample chance of perturbing the local badger population.  Perturbing the population - stirring 'em up - spreads disease and makes things worse for cattle and badgers both.

The rational response is to abandon the cull and pour effort into the ongoing badger TB vaccines being trialled at, for example, Killerton in Devon.  That's what the Welsh farming office are doing.  That's what the English should be doing too.
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