SFI annual health and welfare review

Environment and climate
Black and white dairy cows looking at the camera

As part of its Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, Defra has continued the roll out of the SFI annual health and welfare review into 2024. 

In late August 2023 the RPA (Rural Payments Agency) and Defra made a number of changes to improve the user experience and clarified the use of the review.

Those who signed up to an annual health and welfare review (application made and agreement started) more than 10 months ago can now apply for a second review.

The application process remains the same as last year, with the process taking roughly 5 minutes. 

Eligible farmers can find out what the review includes and how to sign up at: GOV.UK | SFI annual health and welfare review.

Eligible applicants do not need to have claimed BPS in the past to access the scheme, but there’s still a number of eligibility criteria to meet, such as having an eligible type of livestock of a minimum number.

Where do I apply?

To apply for the review, you need a CRN (customer reference number) and your rural payments service password.

You can access the online application portal at: GOV.UK | Apply for an annual health and welfare review.

The annual vet visit is one 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.

The review can be carried out by a vet, or vet led team, of your choice and will take place over a 2-3 hour period at a time of your convenience. It will concentrate on the animals’ specific health and welfare priorities and:

  • 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 minimum number of BVD tests within the review has been reduced since August 2023 from six, to a minimum of five. This in order to align with the requirement of the BVD Free and CHECs schemes and avoid any confusion for vets and farmers. Farmers who have already applied for a review have already been contacted by the RPA who will update its terms and conditions to reflect this.

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 is available to eligible farmers 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.

Currently, you have to choose which of the species you wish to carry out the review for.

Guidance on eligibility can be found at: GOV.UK | Annual health and welfare review of livestock.

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 government guidance linked above is information 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.

First step

Before you start, please have a look at the latest ‘how to’ video which covers the apply and claim process.

To see the review in action, hear from farmer Chris and vet Matt as they share their experience of conducting a review on Chris' farm in Cumbria.

When you're ready to apply, visit: GOV.UK | Apply for an annual health and welfare review.

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.

Further information

You can also ask the vet to provide a VAN (Vet Attestation Number) for the report to allow it to be used for the new veterinary attestation requirements introduced during December 2023.

The review fulfils this requirement, as long as the vet fills in the summary that a farmer receives at the end of the visit as evidence.

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This page was first published on 19 December 2023. It was updated on 20 March 2024.

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