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Animal Health and Welfare – Vet Visit

The Animal Health and Welfare grant which comes under the Sustainable Farming Incentive as a new scheme is now open for expressions of interest.

It will pay for a vet visit to assess various criteria for animal health and welfare on the farm.

The payment rates, which will include the cost of the vet’s time and the diagnostic testing have been agreed at:

• £684 for pigs • £436 for sheep • £522 for beef cattle • £372 for dairy cattle

You can only choose one of the above at present.


For beef and dairy cattle, the RPA want to: • tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea which costs the industry between £14-36 million per year and raises greenhouse gas emissions from cattle • reduce lameness and mastitis to improve health and welfare, increase productivity and decrease the environmental impacts of farming • upgrade housing: many farm buildings are not optimally designed for cattle, especially calves - we will encourage improvements in ventilation, cow comfort, loafing areas and enrichments such as scratching brushes • improve pain management during disbudding, dehorning and castration through greater adoption of prolonged analgesia to improve the welfare and performance of calves • improve the welfare of cattle at pastures through improvements in shelter, drainage, gateways and tracks that support the normal behaviours associated with grazing and being outdoors


For sheep, the RPA’s priorities are to: • provide a tailored health screening to address a range of endemic diseases, estimated to cost the sector around £85 million per year - initially this will focus on internal and external parasites (and associated anthelmintic efficacy), mastitis, ‘iceberg’ diseases and those inducing abortion • reduce lameness as it is one of the most common signs of ill health and discomfort among sheep, affecting animals’ mobility, productivity and longevity • improve ewe sustainability, optimising body condition so that ewes are less susceptible to disease, produce better quality milk and can rear a greater number of healthier lambs • improve pain management during castration and tail docking - we want to support the licensing and uptake of pain relief to reduce the impact of these procedures


For pigs, the RPA priorities are to: • improve biosecurity to control endemic pig diseases and help prevent the introduction of exotic disease threats • tackle Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus which costs the industry an estimated £52 million per year and increases antibiotic use • reduce sow confinement during farrowing by supporting producers in shifting to less confined alternatives for the sow, whilst ensuring the welfare of her piglets and the safety of workers. We are also exploring potential reforms around the use of farrowing crates, which can restrict sows’ normal behaviours such as, nesting • reduce stressors to keep tails intact: we want to support farmers in addressing the underlying causes of high stress levels in pigs which trigger tail biting, such as, poor environmental enrichment, so that farmers feel confident to not dock tails


For laying hens, the priorities are to: • transition out of cages: we are exploring potential reforms around the use of enriched cages for laying hens, which can restrict hens’ normal behaviours such as dustbathing - the Pathway will support producers shifting away from their use • improve feather cover management: we want to support farmers to address the underlying root causes of feather pecking, reducing the need for infra-red beak trimming • improve keel bone health to reduce laying hens’ susceptibly to painful fractures which can occur in all production systems

The vet will give recommendations to improve the above. This could lead to recommendations for things such as livestock housing, with grant assistance then provided.


The expressions of interest for this grant have now opened, please let me know if you require assistance or would like me to do this on your behalf.

Mobile: 07857 877925 Email:

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