Social Science study to accompany the Badger Vaccine Deployment Project

This social science study aimed to assess the level of farmer confidence in the use of vaccination before, during and after vaccine deployment, and was part of the Government’s Bovine TB Badger Vaccine Deployment Project (BVDP). The research aimed to identify motivators and barriers that could influence the future use of TB vaccines.

The research was funded with a grant of just over £380,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), for an initial period of four years, and was led by the CCRI, with support from colleagues at Cardiff University, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Food and Environment Research Agency.

Bovine TB is a complex animal disease affecting farmed cattle and badgers. The disease can seriously affect the livelihood of farmers, both in terms of the economics of livestock production and increased stress levels brought about by TB testing and the potential farm business impacts the disease might have. In England, vaccination of either cattle and/or wildlife is seen as an important long-term policy to help reduce the impact of bTB. The Badger Vaccination Deployment Programme (BVDP) represented the first practical on-farm use of a bTB vaccine for badgers. It ran from the summer of 2010. The aim of the BVDP was to vaccinate badgers in Stroud, an area with a high incidence of bTB, recruiting farmers in the area until 100 km2 is covered out of a 300 km2 area.

The social science research study provided an in-depth and culturally sensitive analysis of the BVDP. The social science research also assessed farmer attitudes to badger vaccines in the BVDP area and four non-BVDP areas, the latter also areas of high bTB incidence. Both quantitative and qualitative information was collected through the use of telephone surveys, face-to-face interviews, observations and shadowing.

The project outputs will primarily benefit Defra policy makers, but will also be of real significance to a wide range of stakeholder organisations, individual cattle farmers, veterinarians and animal health officers.

The full team carrying out the ‘Social science study to accompany the Badger Vaccine Deployment Project’ was Dr. Damian Maye, Professor Brian Ilbery, Dr James Kirwan , Rhiannon Fisher and Dr Michael Clark (all CCRI); Professor Chris Gaskell and Will Manley (The Royal Agricultural College and CCRI associates); Dr. Gareth Enticott (Cardiff University), Dr. Andy Mitchell and Dr. Ruth Blackwell (Veterinary Laboratories Agency) and Dr. Gavin Wilson and Dr. Iain Trewby (Food and Environment Research Agency).