Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Curious Cows

The method of transmission of tuberculosis bacteria between badgers and cattle seems to be giving many 'scientists' indigestion. How does it happen?

Farmers have contacted the editors of this site with their experiences and we are again able to quote from the book written in 1981, by Robert W. Howard of the Avon Wildlife Trust, "Badgers Without Bias", who observed:

"The suggestion is that cattle at grass react to the presence of a badger in the same way as they commonly react to a dog, or people who enter pasture fields. They group around the intruder in an enquiring and excited manner to which the badger reacts by voiding urine in an uncontrolled spray, forming an aerosol. A badger cub has been seen to spit, rather like a cat, when confronted by cattle."

Mr. Howard described this as a "fright reaction".
There are up to 300,000 units of m.bovis in just 1ml of urine from a badger with kidney lesions in that aerosol spray, a point we are most grateful to Mr. Bradshaw for confirming.

This behaviour was witnessed by a Devon farmer, very early in the morning while checking cattle. He saw several badgers trundling about as his cows began to graze at dawn. As a mouthful of grass was torn up by the cow, the badger dived into the void she'd left to grab beetles and worms near the surface of the newly shorn pasture. And for a few seconds the two shared the same airspace.

The farmer stood very still, trying to photograph the encounter and a badger came right up to his boots.
He moved his foot and it jumped backwards about a yard, making just such a 'fright reaction' .
He describes this as a coughing, barking grunt of exhaled air - and spit.

His wellies were covered in an aerosol of badger spit.

A case of curiosity killing the cow?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe that possum's in N.Z., in their death throes from TB have been videoed attracting the type of attention from cows as is described in this article.