Health and welfare reviews rolled out for livestock farms
The review is an opportunity to improve livestock's health and welfare.
The funded visits will allow vets to support the work of farmers.

Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) annual health and welfare reviews are now open to all eligible farmers in England. The launch is the first step on Defra’s new Animal Health and Welfare Pathway.

Farms taking part in the scheme will receive a funded annual visit by either a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary team. Participation is optional and it is up to the farmer to choose a veterinary practice and arrange a review. 

The visits are designed to be flexible to meet the different needs of different farms, with the aim of reducing endemic diseases, improving animal welfare, increasing animal productivity, and ensuring that veterinary medicines and vaccines are being used appropriately. 

While on the farm, the veterinary surgeon or team will test for conditions such as bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), porcine reproductive and respiratory disease (PRRS) and worms in sheep. It will also be a chance to discuss relevant issues with the client and provide bespoke advice on the health and welfare of the livestock.

To receive a funded review, a farm must have either 11 or more cattle (beef or dairy), 21 or more sheep, or 51 or more pigs and be eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme. They do not need to have an SFI standards agreement.

In response to the launch, BCVA president Colin Mason said: “We are encouraged to see the start of these animal health and welfare review visits, which offer broad opportunities for vets and their farm clients to discuss the health and welfare of their animals. This review stage is just the start of the development of the scheme, and it’s important that cattle vets are involved as the programme expands.

“It’s important to note that the scheme recognises that one size doesn’t fit all, so it’s an opportunity to tailor your visit to suit your client, to develop your relationship and expand your services to them.”

The Government has released online guidance for veterinary professionals on how to carry out a review.