With a reduction in the minimum number of animals being kept, more keepers of native breeds in England are now eligible for the annual health and welfare review, part of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).

The minimum qualifying numbers are now eleven or more beef or dairy cattle, 21 or more sheep and 51 or more pigs. The livestock must be registered in England and the person applying must be responsible for their welfare. Initially, keepers will only be able to have a review of one eligible type of livestock so those with more will need to choose which to have reviewed, although this may change in the future. Payment is per species, not individual animal, and is set at £684 for pigs, £436 for sheep, £522 for beef cattle and £372 for dairy cattle, the variations accounted for by the differences between time needed for and cost of analysis of the different tests involved. The review is flexible and the keeper and vet can decide on the health and welfare priorities for the individual holding.

The review is designed to:

•   reduce endemic diseases such as bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in cattle, porcine reproductive and respiratory disease (PRRS) in pigs and address the effectiveness of worming treatments in sheep

•   improve the welfare of farm animals

•   increase productivity

•   ensure use of veterinary medicines and vaccines is appropriate

•   be primarily for the farmer, and not used for inspections or compliance

During the visit, the vet will provide bespoke advice with some diagnostic testing around endemic diseases agreed by the farmers and vets who helped to design the pathway. The review is described as an opportunity to boost profitability and prevent financial losses from endemic disease and conditions such as lameness. 

Full details of the scheme can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/sfi-annual-health-and-welfare-review

Photo: John Smiley