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Option 23 Animal Welfare Management Programme FAQs



1. Livestock species - Does this option apply to all species of livestock on a farm or can one species be excluded?

In the first year, you should review with your vet, the welfare of all relevant species on farm, so if a producer has sheep, cattle and goats, the review should be applied to all 3 species. You should then agree with your vet which species (one or more) need to be targeted for action to improve their welfare and choose specific actions that are relevant to those species. Annual monitoring and benchmarking may be restricted to the target species, which should be recorded in the Management Plan. Each year, the welfare of all livestock must be reviewed as part of the annual welfare review.

2. Livestock species - If a producer has both cattle and sheep do any specific actions apply to both cattle and sheep?

Specific actions apply to all target species named in the Management Plan except where exemptions are specifically noted in the guidance.

3. If a producer has the minimum of 5 livestock units, could they apply for the 3 highest paid specific actions?

Yes. There are no barriers - only that the applicant has the minimum livestock units. For example, if the producer has a small amount of sheep and a larger amount of cattle then they will be allowed to apply for Sheep Scab. The only condition is that they have sheep.

4. If a producer only has goats, which specific actions could they select?

The specific actions available are:

Implementing Biosecurity

Preventing Lameness

Liver fluke control

5. Can producers in Shetland take the Sheep Scab Control specific action?

No. Specific actions should be chosen in discussion with a vet and on the basis of current problems or risks to welfare. Shetland currently has sheep scab-free status, therefore there is no risk of sheep scab.

6. Can producers in Shetland take the BVD or Johne's specific actions?

Yes. Although the Shetland Island Council pay for the lab costs associated with testing for both these diseases, there are no double funding issues with producers taking these specific actions. The standard payment relating to these specific actions is towards the costs of skilled and managerial farm labour. None of the costs funded by LMO relate to lab costs, therefore there is no restriction on Shetland producers choosing these specific actions.

7. If livestock are mixed with others on common grazing, should all livestock be participating in the management plans?

Ideally, yes; however, this will depend on the specific actions a producer wishes to take. Activities under maintaining bodily condition are unlikely to be compromised by mixing with other livestock on common ground. However, specific actions to implement biosecurity, prevent lameness, and control mastitis, diarrhoea and pneumonia could all be significantly compromised by mixing livestock subject to these specific actions with livestock of a lower health status. The use of common grazing should therefore be avoided unless neighbouring farms are undertaking the same specific actions. Those taking specific actions on Johne's or BVD must not use common ground unless their neighbours are also taking the same specific actions.

8. As gathering and handling of stock from common grazing is not carried out on a regular basis, can a producer take the specific action for control and prevention of diarrhoea and pneumonia if they cannot meet the requirement to sample every 2 months?

No. If the requirements of a specific action cannot be met, then that action cannot be chosen.

9. Can the option commitment be succeeded to if the producer retires within the 5 year timescale of the plan?

On retiral of the original applicant the incomer "may" take on the commitment provided they take on all the animals too.


10. When does the review need to be completed by?

In year one of each producer's 5 year commitment, the review must be conducted by 30th June to allow actions to be agreed and implementation of those actions to begin by 1st July at the latest. This is because annual payment rates are based on actions being taken throughout the year and the European Commission have stipulated that producers are only eligible for payment if they begin implementing by this time. As the agreed actions should generally be rolled over into years 2-5, this is not an issue for rest of the 5 year commitment, hence we are able to extend the deadline for annual reviews in years 2-5 to 1st December.


11. Does the 1 December deadline for the Plan apply to each year of the 5 year programme?

Yes. In each year of the 5 year programme, your Plan must be obtained from your vet by 1 December, and be available for inspection.

12. What must I do if my business is chosen for inspection in the first year of the 5 year programme and prior to the 1 December deadline for the Management Plan?

You must provide the inspector with written evidence that you and your vet have carried out your livestock welfare review by 30 June and begun implementing your chosen specific actions by 1 July. A producer/vet declaration form which you and your vet may wish to use for this purpose is available to download from our website.


13. Are the specific actions chosen compulsory for the full 5 years?

It is expected that the specific actions chosen in year one will be continued for the full 5 years. However, if during an annual review the vet indicates that one of the specific actions chosen is no longer appropriate on welfare grounds, it can be dropped. The terminated specific action must be replaced with another if the total number of specific actions would otherwise drop below the minimum of 3 required to be eligible for payment. The reasons for any change to the specific actions must be documented by the vet in the Management Plan.

14. Can a producer increase the number of specific actions chosen during the lifetime of the commitment?

Yes, on the basis of the positive benefit undertaking an additional specific action would produce. This must be on the advice of your vet with the reasons for the addition fully documented in the Management Plan, and on the understanding that you have sufficient livestock units for the number of actions chosen. Adding a specific action will not affect the overall 5 year duration of the option commitment.

15. Can changes to the composition or number of specific actions be implemented during the LMO scheme year?

No. Changes cannot be implemented mid scheme year. This is because LMO payment rates are calculated on actions being carried out for a full 12 months. The earliest changes can be implemented is the LMO scheme year following your decision. When submitting your LMO application form listing your revised specific actions, you must also provide written confirmation that the changes were made on the advice of your vet.


16. Must producers with sheep-only units test incoming sheep for Johne's?

No. Of the 3 diseases: BVD, IBR and Johne's, listed in this specific action only Johne's is relevant to sheep. However, as there is no effective test for Johne's in sheep, this requirement does not apply to sheep-only units. Producers are not restricted to only testing for Johne's, and may, if they wish, include testing for other diseases e.g. EAE and Maedi/Visna, in their standard regime.

17. Must producers not in a health scheme buy accredited stock?

This will depend on where the livestock is being sourced from. The specific action requires producers to implement procedures for sourcing new livestock that minimise the risk of bringing disease onto the farm. This must include obtaining written confirmation that the seller has membership of relevant health accreditation schemes. Where there is no such relevant accreditation scheme, you should discuss with your vet whether pre-purchase sampling is advisable. Whether or not the producer taking the biosecurity option is in a health scheme does not affect this requirement.

18. What are relevant health accreditation schemes?

Relevant health accreditation schemes are those that deal with specific diseases that are circulating in the area from which a producer is sourcing livestock. This may include Johne's, BVD, or EAE control schemes.

19. Must the separation facility prevent nose to nose contact with livestock on the rest of the farm?

Yes. This facility may be in a shed, holding pen or field, but separation must be achieved by a combination of both physical barriers and stock management. These should prevent both direct contact (e.g. nose to nose) and indirect contact (e.g. through a common water supply). If field based, the facility should either have a solid or double-fenced boundary. Double fences should be 5m apart.

20. Must all livestock coming onto farm be blood sampled?

Only a representative sample from each batch of animals need be sampled. The size of the sample would be statistically based on advice from your vet taking into account the disease to be tested, the origin of the animals and the current situation on farm. As an illustration, if a 100 cattle are purchased from one producer only a proportion need be tested, however, if the cattle were purchased from a 100 different sources all would need to be sampled.


21. Must the producer take action on all livestock on the holding or can they choose just cattle or just sheep?

Those taking this specific action must apply the action as relevant to their cattle, sheep and/or goats.

22. What must the physical foot inspection involve?

This must involve assessing the shape of all feet and picking up and inspecting the underneath of at least the hind feet of each individual adult animal. Foot trimming or other treatment should only be applied where appropriate.


23. Can bulk milk tank sampling be used?

No. It must be individual milk samples from each cow in the herd on a monthly basis.


24. Will payment be made if a producer takes this option but has no incidence of scour/pneumonia?

Yes. Regardless of the incidence of scour or pneumonia, those producers taking this specific action are required to carry out a lungworm surveillance programme, therefore, payment will be made. However, specific actions should be chosen in discussion with a vet and on the basis of current problems or risks to welfare. If scour or pneumonia are not a problem, there may be other specific actions more suited to the needs of the farm.


25. What can producers without any liver fluke free ground to move livestock onto do?

They can use lower risk or fluke free land to move animals onto.

26. If livestock are grazed on the hill for the majority of the year, can the frequency of the faecal sampling requirement be reduced?

No, the requirement to take faecal samples at least once every two months from at least 6 sites on the farm is compulsory no matter where the livestock graze.

27. Can the faecal sampling requirement be suspended for the period stock are housed over winter?

No. The purpose of the faecal sampling requirement is to identify whether or not any of the livestock are infected and initiate treatment. Sampling must continue throughout the year with samples taken in the areas housing the livestock over winter.


28. What is CHeCS?

Cattle Heath Certification Standards (UK), abbreviated CHeCS (pronounced 'Checks') is a self-regulatory body for Cattle Health Schemes in the UK. It is a non-trading organisation established by the British cattle industry for the control and eradication of non-statutory diseases by a set of standards to which all licensed Cattle Health Schemes must adhere. Further information can be found at http://www.checs.co.uk/.

29. Is membership of a CHeCS scheme obligatory even if Johne's testing has been carried out to CHeCS standards?

Yes. All producers taking this option must join an approved Johne's disease control programme. An approved Johne's disease control programme is one that meets the Cattle Health Certification Standard (CHeCS). At present there are 3 full CHeCS schemes in Scotland, offered by Biobest, SAC and Hi Health.

30. How should producers avoid grazing weaned young stock on pasture where adults have grazed and co-grazing or sequential grazing with other livestock that can carry Johne's disease infection?

Through grazing management, by turning out young stock onto land which has not held older animals during that grazing season.

31. Can the requirement not to use pasture close to ponds/streams/ditches that also pass through neighbouring land be relaxed if the stream is fast flowing?

The risk is mainly associated with slow moving/lower volume streams and ditches which are more likely to be contaminated. There will inevitably be a grey area between what is considered fast flowing or slow moving water, so some veterinary judgement of the risk of upstream contamination of the watercourse and the opportunities for the stock to drink from it is needed, remembering the possibility of seasonal variations in flow and grazing patterns. In the event that such pasture is used, the reasons for the decision should be fully documented in the Management Plan.


32. If a beef producer manages less than 5 animals in each separately managed group of calves, is he excluded from this specific action?

No. This specific action requires beef producers to sample and test 5 animals for each separately managed group of calves in the 9 to 18 months age range each year. If less than 5 animals are managed in each group, then all the animals in a group should be sampled and tested.

33. Preventing nose to nose contact could prove expensive - what can I do?

In areas where you do not have solid or double fenced boundaries, you could agree the timing of field use with neighbours to avoid contact. You should secure their agreement before applying for this option. In the longer term, you should consider upgrading your boundaries, for example by providing a second fence or thick hedging. It may be possible to obtain funding for such improvements by undertaking activities to improve biodiversity under Land Managers Options or Rural Priorities, in particular those involving the management of grassland around pasture and the creation of hedgerows.


34.  What if I choose this specific option and find that I do not need to treat  my sheep?

If a discussion with your vet confirms that you don’t need to treat for sheep scab either to deal with a known problem or as a precautionary measure, then you can remove it from your plan for the following year and substitute it with another specific option.  It should be noted that if you are chosen for inspection, and it is found you have claimed for this specific option but have not carried out any control, we will recover any money already paid to you. 

35.  Can I choose this as one of the minimum specific actions? 

Where there is a strong possibility that you will not need to treat for sheep scab as described above, then it should not be chosen as one of the 3 minimum specific options as we will not be able to pay any of your AWMP claim the following year.

36. Can I choose this specific action if I co-graze my sheep with those of neighbours' on common land?

You can only choose this specific action if your neighbours agree to co-ordinate treatment.

37. Where co-ordinated treatment is not possible, is it sufficient to alternate grazing on either side of a boundary fence?

Yes, provided there is a minimum interval of 3 weeks and use of the land is recorded. In such circumstances, you cannot also claim the additional payment for loss of grazing.

38. Where co-ordinated treatment is not possible, would a road separating neighbours' land meet the requirement of not using land "immediately adjacent (within 5m) to land used by neighbouring farms"?

It could only be classed as not immediately adjacent if the road is properly fenced on both sides so there is no contact with a neighbour's sheep.

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