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Is badger culling associated with risk compensation behaviour among cattle farmers?

Brunton, Lucy; Enticott, Gareth


Lucy Brunton

Gareth Enticott


Risk compensation theory suggests that behaviours are modified in response to interventions that remove risks by substituting them with other risky behaviours to maintain a ‘risk equilibrium’. Alternatively, risk reduction interventions may result in spill-over behaviours that seek to minimise risks further. This paper assessed evidence for these behavioural risk responses among farmers in response to badger culling that seeks to remove the risk of bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

Data from the UK's randomised badger culling trial were re-analysed, comparing farmers’ cattle movement practices in proactive and reactive culling areas and control areas. Analysis compared cattle movements during and after the trial using zero-inflated negative binomial regression.

The analysis found no strong evidence of risk compensation behaviours among farmers who experienced proactive culling. However, strong evidence for a reduction in cattle movements in reactive culling areas was found. The results indicate high levels of inertia within farming systems in relation to cattle purchasing.

Data do not account for the risk of cattle purchases and reflect previous policy regimens. Evidence from recent badger culling interventions should be analysed.

Proactive badger culling was not associated with risk compensation behaviours, while reactive badger culling was associated with decreased risk taking among farmers.


Brunton, L., & Enticott, G. (in press). Is badger culling associated with risk compensation behaviour among cattle farmers?. Veterinary Record,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 5, 2024
Online Publication Date May 29, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 18, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 18, 2024
Journal Veterinary Record
Print ISSN 0042-4900
Electronic ISSN 2042-7670
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed


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