The role of dairy farming as a driver of the badger cull

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Despite this, badgers continue to be persecuted. In England in 2023, at least 19,570 badgers were culled under government-issues licenses and 20,243 cows were slaughtered. According to the Badger Trust, in some areas of England, the government can’t find any more badgers to kill with ‘minimum kill targets’ being repeatedly missed because badger populations simply aren’t recovering. Disturbingly, an independent report found badgers taking over 5 minutes to die from bullet wounds, blood loss and organ failure raising serious animal welfare concerns. In addition, badgers are not tested for TB before being killed (the government has repeatedly rejected calls for testing and vaccinating badgers) meaning thousands of healthy animals are being needlessly murdered every single year.

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Table produced by the Badger Trust based on data for the 2023 cull period.

The bigger picture

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Animal farming creates conditions that are ideal for the rapid emergence and spread of disease. Huge numbers of highly stressed animals bred for fast growth and high production, who are housed in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions provide the perfect breeding ground for infections.  And it’s not just bovine tuberculosis (bTB): outbreaks of avian flu are more likely in countries, including the UK, who operate large-scale, intensive chicken farming [2,3], while cases of swine flu have increased in line with the intensification of pig farming seen over the past 50 years.

As long as the relationship between humans and animals is one based on production and profit rather than respect and compassion, animals will continue to suffer – from the cows exploited as milk machines to the scapegoat mass killing of wildlife. Help change this relationship for the better by adopting a cruelty-free, vegan lifestyle today. Find out more.


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[1] Schuck-Paim, C., Alonso, W.J., & Slywitch, E. (2023). Animal welfare and human health. In A, Knight, C. Phillips, & P. Sparks (Eds.), Routledge handbook of animal welfare (pp.321-335). Routledge.

[2] Shortridge, K.F., Peiris, J.S.M., & Guan, Y. (2003). The next influenza pandemic: Lessons from Hong Kong. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 94(1), 70-79.

[3] Greger, M. (2006). Bird flu. New York: Lantern Books.

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