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The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway: Everything farmers need to know

Disease? Not On My Farm! Ambassador Blog
The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway:
Everything farmers need to know

MSD Animal Health Vet Advisor, Liz Cresswell, recently took part in a webinar discussing the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway with input from DEFRA’s Head of Future Farming for Healthier Animals, Martin Jenkins, and British Cattle Veterinary Association president, Colin Mason. Here’s everything you need to know about the Pathway.

Head of Future Farming at Defra Martin Jenkins

Mark Jenkins
Head of Future Farming

British Cattle Veterinary Association president Colin Mason

Colin Mason

MSD Animal Health Vet Advisor Liz Cresswell

Liz Cresswell
Veterinary Advisor
MSD Animal Health

  • What is the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway?

    The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway was borne out of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England with the aim of developing a post-Brexit programme that encourages the production of healthier, higher welfare animals across all farms in England.

    It focuses on three pillars:

    1. Financially rewarding farmers – health and welfare enhancements delivered through public funding
    2. Stimulating market demand – making it easier for consumers to purchase higher welfare products
    3. Strengthening the regulatory baseline – improving performance and compliance
  • What funding will be available for farmers?

    The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway aims to deliver financial support to farmers on a voluntary basis through four funding schemes.

    These are:

    1. Animal Health and Welfare review – is being rolled out during 2023 offering financial support for a vet, or vet-led team, to visit a farm and carry out a yearly review of animal health and welfare
    2. Disease eradication and control programmes – These will launch in 2023 and include diagnostic testing, vaccination and vet advice
    3. Animal Health and Welfare Grants – These will launch in 2023 and provide funding for capital investment in technology, equipment and infrastructure that supports animal health and welfare
    4. Payment by results – This will trial in 2023 and reward health and welfare improvements, by offsetting ongoing costs associated with higher welfare practices
  • What are the health and welfare priorities for cattle, sheep and pigs?

    The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway has been co-developed by the Government and industry stakeholders – including vets and farmers.

    These are:

    • Sheep – Screening for priority endemic diseases; lameness reduction; use of pain management; and improved ewe sustainability
    • Cattle – Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD); lameness and mastitis reduction; housing upgrades; use of pain management; and pasture improvements
    • Pigs – Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS); improved biosecurity; sow confinement reduction during farrowing; and stressor reduction to keep tails intact
  • How do I get involved?

    The first step to getting involved with the Pathway is to sign up for an Animal Health and Welfare review. Keep an eye on DEFRA’s website for updates on applications: Animal Health and Welfare Pathway - GOV.UK (

    It will initially only be available for cattle, sheep, and pig farmers, who will be permitted to have one review for one single species per Single Business Indicator (SBI) number.

    However, DEFRA hopes to extend the scheme in the future so that farmers can have multiple reviews for multiple species, and also for multiple herds or flocks.

  • What does an Animal Health and Welfare review involve?

    An Animal Health and Welfare review is available to any livestock farmer who has a minimum number of animals – 11 cattle or 21 sheep or 51 pigs.

    It involves a vet visiting the farm and having a 2-3 hour discussion with the farmer about the health and welfare of their animals, as well as carrying out testing for endemic diseases such as BVD, or wormer efficacy in sheep.

    The farmer and vet will then agree actions to be carried out, based on what is most suitable for that specific farm, and the vet will compile a report to share with the farmer.

    The report will outline the endemic disease testing results, any other findings from the visit, and the agreed action plan.

    The system is entirely flexible and the farmer and vet can choose to carry out the process in one farm visit, or several. There’s no set amount of time for a review but it’s likely to take between 2 to 3 hours of your time and the vet’s time.

  • How much funding will I get for an Animal Health and Welfare review?

    The payment rates available for the review have been set by Government, in collaboration with the veterinary industry, and differ due to variations in the cost of endemic testing in each sector.

    The current rates available are:

    • Beef cattle - £522
    • Dairy cattle - £372
    • Sheep - £436
    • Pigs - £684

    Eligible farmers can claim the full amount – they will need to provide information on the date of the review and the RCVS number of the vet who carried out the review. The review visit must be carried out within six months of applying for support.

Vist the DEFRA website for more information on the Animal Health and Welfare pathway!


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