Garth Pig Practice’s Gemma Thwaites, a senior vice-president of the Pig Veterinary Society and a member of the group developing the Pig Health and Welfare Pathway, explains how producers can benefit from the Pathway.
The Pig Health and Welfare Pathway currently offers pig producers the opportunity of having an Annual Health and Welfare Review, paid for by the Government.
These reviews are really worthwhile, and we are keen to increase uptake in the pig sector, which has, so far, not been as good as we would have hoped.
Eligibility and applying
You are eligible if you have 51 or more pigs on site, and have an SBI (Single Business Identifier) linked to a country parish holding number (CPH) registered in England. Crucially, you no longer have to be a Basic Payment claimant to apply, a move that has opened up the reviews to many more pig farmers.
Third-party bed and breakfast sites can apply. However, in these cases the money will be paid to the applicant, but the vet will invoice the owner for their time and laboratory costs. The logistics of this would, therefore, have to be agreed between the applicant and the owner of the pigs.
It is also needs to be pointed out that you must apply before any testing is done – this cannot be backdated.
Applying for an annual health and welfare review is a very quick process – you can do it HERE
With your Rural Payments service customer reference number (CRN) and RPA password to hand, an application takes less than 2 minutes!
The Review Visit
When you apply, you are given an agreement number, and you can then organise a vet review visit.
During this visit, the vet will give health and welfare advice and take 30 blood samples for testing for PRRS.
Your vet will provide a report with the results, and also agreed achievable actions that can be taken to address any issues uncovered. The report will include a summary document as evidence of the visit.
You must claim your funding within six months of the visit. The information required to do this will be in the summary report.
The current funding for pigs is £684. This is paid directly to the claimant and covers vet time, laboratory costs and your time.
But what is in it for me?
Uptake in our sector has, I’m afraid, been disappointingly low. Many units already know their PRRS status and are discussing health and welfare issues regularly at quarterly vet visits – so why bother?
It isn’t possible for the vet to take samples to test for other diseases as part of the pathway,
but further samples can be taken at the same time, which reduces costs as your vet is already on site.
Another benefit is that samples can be used to assess PRRS stability within your herd – please discuss this directly with your unit vet.
The next stage of the pathway is Endemics and will involve more detailed PRRS testing, although you need to complete stage 1 before moving into stage 2.
There are multiple grant opportunities within the Pathway, and if you apply for these having followed advice from your vet, then they will be looked on more favourably.
As a sector, we should be trying to engage in this Pathway whilst funding is available. This
funding will not be available for the long term.
Of course, there are some issues with the Pathway, especially for producers who are already proactively health monitoring and engaging with their vet, but it is not very often that producers are offered government money – so let’s take them up on it!
There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to develop the next stages of the Pathway, so let’s see if we can increase the number of applications and support this.