On 7 February, Defra announced the rollout of the SFI annual health and welfare review. to eligible farmers.
The annual vet visit is the first element of the government’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway which is being developed to support continuing improvements in farm animal health and welfare in England.
What does the review include?
Defra has been developing the review over the past year. Through it, farmers who keep cattle, sheep and pigs can obtain funding to pay for an annual vet visit.
The review can be carried out by a vet, or vet led team, of the farmer's choice and will take place over a 2-3 hour period at a time of their convenience. It will concentrate on the animals’ specific health and welfare priorities:
- Discuss animal health and welfare and agree achievable actions for the year ahead
- Carry out diagnostic testing - BVD in cattle / PRRS in pigs / the effectiveness of worming treatments in sheep
- Discussion on medicine use
- Collect data to understand national herd/ flock health – this data will be anonymised and not used for future inspections or enforcement purposes
The annual review is designed to:
- reduce endemic diseases
- improve the welfare of animals
- increase productivity
- make sure the use of veterinary medicines and vaccines is appropriate
The paid vet visit will initially only be available to farmers eligible for BPS and who keep more than 50 pigs, 20 sheep or 10 cattle.
The flat payment rates per review will be:
- pigs - £684
- sheep - £436
- beef cattle - £522
- dairy cattle - £372
Rates aim to cover the vet’s time and the testing costs.
Guidance on eligibility can be found at: SFI annual health and welfare review | GOV.UK
Testing should be carried out to the correct standards. This includes the processing of test results at labs that meet the specified standard.
Within the guidance published for vets there is clear information about this, as well as a list of recommended laboratories. Talk to your vet to make sure that they are aware of this guidance and work to it.
The NFU would encourage eligible members to look at this offer.
The first step for any interested farmer is to register their interest. Visit: Register your interest in a health and welfare review of your livestock | GOV.UK
Initially, a farmer will only be able to register for one species’ review.
Registering must take place before a farmer can apply for a review. This will, in the initial stages, help to manage the process and make sure farmers get a good service.
The RPA, who is administering this scheme for Defra, will then check that the farmer is eligible. If they are they will receive an email inviting them to apply. The email will also include a link to the guidance.
More information on the background and future steps can be found in this Defra blog: The annual health and welfare review: rolling out yearly vet visits | GOV.UK