On 7 February, Defra announced the launch of first step on the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway – the Annual Health and Welfare Review.
The annual vet visit is the first element of the government’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, intended to support continuing improvements in farm animal health and welfare in England.
The BCVA, along with colleagues across the farm veterinary profession, has been one of the industry project partners in the development of the scheme.
BCVA President, Colin Mason, welcomed the news of the launch, saying, “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 its 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 its an opportunity to tailor your visit to suit your client, to develop your relationship and expand your services to them.”
FUNDING & ELIGABILITY
The Annual Health and Welfare Review is a funded annual farm visit, to be carried out by a vet, or a member of the vet led team, of the farmer's choice.
Initially only BPS (Basic Payment Scheme) eligible farmers will be able to register. To be eligible for a review a farm must have one of the following: 11 or more beef or dairy cattle, 21 or more sheep, and/or 51 or more pigs.
AIMS OF THE VISIT
The aim of the visit is to reduce endemic disease, improve the welfare of animals, increase productivity, and ensure the responsible use of medicines and vaccines.
ON THE VISIT
- There is no set template for these visits – this is an opportunity for you develop your on-farm relationships and use your own clinical decision making to decide what is best with your farm client for their specific needs.
- Discuss specific health and welfare priorities and agree health and welfare actions for the year.
- Diagnostic testing, (BVD testing is mandatory).
- Discuss medicine use and explore approaches to treatment.
- Collect data.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE PRACTICE
- Discuss with the team how you will approach different clients – for instance those who you see regularly and those you only see for specific needs or prescribing purposes. The scheme recognises that one approach does not suit all farms.
- Visits can be done by any vet in the practice and is an opportunity to build relationships across the team.
- Make the most of the open nature of the visit. See it as an opportunity to discuss or tackle something that otherwise wouldn't be looked at.
- Remember, this is not a Red Tractor review or assured scheme visit.
- Take the opportunity to gain some insight into the farm business: What is their plan for the next 5 years? Expansion, diversification? How can you help them achieve their aims.
- Could you talk to the farmer about this being a 'Triage visit'. Walk the farm and discuss all the issues at the visit and use it to then decide what you will look further into.
- More information about eligibility and registration - https://apply-for-an-annual-health-and-welfare-review.defra.gov.uk/apply/register-your-interest
- Guidance for vets on how to carry out a review - https://apply-for-an-annual-health-and-welfare-review.defra.gov.uk/apply/guidance-for-vet
- Guidance for vets on how to carry out the relevant endemic disease or conditions testing for a review - https://apply-for-an-annual-health-and-welfare-review.defra.gov.uk/apply/guidance-for-vet-technical
- Stewart Houston, chair of the Pathway Liaison Group, has written a piece for the Future Farming blog - https://defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/2023/02/07/the-annual-health-and-welfare-review-rolling-out-yearly-vet-visits/
As the scheme develops BCVA will continue to share relevant information with members, and the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway will be a feature of our Congress programme in Telford this year, 19-21 October 2023.