DEVONSHIRE, England (B)--A beef farming couple are selling their herd because it has proved more profitable for people to come and see a group of badgers living on their land.

Kevin and Anne Atkinson, beef producers for 10 years, started a badger watching business three years ago to

diversify away from total reliance on the mad cow disease crisis hit beef sector.

They spent 12,000 sterling ($18,200 U.S.) setting up the badger business, including a purpose built blind in a hillside where visitors can see around 10 of the animals in the evenings.

Now, it is so successful, and the beef business so bad, that they are selling their 24 cattle and devoting their time and efforts to the badgers.

They are also hoping to diversify further by opening up their 60-acre farm near Tiverton, Devon, to school parties during the day.

Mrs. Atkinson, 43, said beef farming was not longer financially viable and they had been forced to look for alternatives.

"If we are to stay on the farm we have to produce an income from the land and in the current economic climate beef just doesn't do that anymore," she said.

"We had been struggling for years to make any money. It got to the point where we weren't making any money at all despite the subsidies.

"It's a lot of hard work for very little reward and I would have had to work off the farm to bring in some income.

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