Cattle ranchers in England will receive a free annual veterinary check-up to improve animal health and reduce incidents of disease on their farms.
Speaking at the Cereal event On Wednesday (June 30), Defra Secretary George Eustice said the review would be the first step in the government’s animal health and welfare agenda.
The policy would be introduced in 2022 as part of Defra’s transition to a new British agricultural policy, he said.
“We are going to pay farmers to have a veterinarian do an annual review of their herd and develop a management plan to try to manage disease and the overall health of their herd – thus promoting profitability,” said Mr. Eustice. .
The veterinarian’s annual visit to eligible farms will allow Defra to better understand the health and welfare of the national herd and target future support in the right way. Payments for the annual review are expected to range from £ 269 to £ 775, depending on the species.
The exam would be performed by the regular farm veterinarian – and not by someone appointed by the government, Mr Eustice said. The veterinarian would develop a health plan for the farming business, including ways to manage disease and improve well-being.
“We all know that individual farms will have different challenges with different endemic diseases, and too often farmers call the vet when there is a particular crisis when they are fighting fires,” Eustice said.
“We believe there is a real benefit to having a more strategic annual visit from a veterinarian with a coherent plan to improve animal health,” he added. “If we can improve animal health and reduce mortality, we will simultaneously improve farm profitability. “
The government would not prescribe the type of veterinarian who undertook the review, Mr Eustice said. In most cases, this would be the vet most familiar with the farm – including homeopathic vets if that is the case.
“Crucial first step”
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said the announcement was a “real victory” and a “crucial first step” towards improving the health and welfare of the country’s herds.
“We know that some animals do not have access to veterinary care and we welcome this opportunity to reach these farms so that we can provide veterinary value to improve health, welfare and productivity,” said James Russell, President of BVA.
“There are a lot more details to work out and BVA is actively working with government and farmers to co-design what that looks like in practice.
“We welcome this first step which will help us understand the big picture on health and wellness so that we can focus our efforts to make improvements on priority diseases. “