Animal health and welfare framework: 2020 to 2022

This framework provides a risk based approach to animal health and welfare duties carried out by local authorities.

Section 4: Risk assessment

4.1 A risk-based approach to enforcement is, almost universally, standard practice in the local authority environment for many different aspects of their work as it facilitates work planning and appropriate resource allocation in a relatively straightforward manner.

4.2 Risk to animal health and welfare is assessed as the occurrence of:

  • infringement of the legislation;
  • incidence of disease;
  • spread of disease; and
  • failure to comply with animal health and welfare best practice.

4.3 Local authorities are encouraged to develop their risk assessments on animal premises in partnership with their local VL using their veterinary expertise. This will promote consistent risk assessments based on veterinary priorities which then allow service delivery to be targeted at consistent enforcement on the risks identified.

Using the National Risk Assessment Scheme

4.4 The risk being assessed has several elements. Local authorities are encouraged to use the National Risk Assessment Scheme format, for which a table of scores for animal health and welfare is outlined below, or other comparable risk assessment schemes.

4.5 Local Authorities are not expected to completely review their existing risk assessments and instead are encouraged to monitor and update them as part of their inspection programme or as and when premises/businesses come to their attention, whichever is sooner.

4.6 It is hoped that by using this format similar premises throughout the country will have similar baseline risk scores, which can then be adjusted to suit both veterinary and local factors.

Guidance on the National Risk Assessment Scheme

4.7 This scheme breaks risk into five elements (by questions). The first four questions form the National Element. This gives a formally agreed score and should give a consistent baseline minimum for particular premises (and activity) types. Once the predetermined baseline score is identified a Local Element score (allowing local flexibility) is added at question five. This combination of National and Local risk elements gives the overall final risk score of Low, Medium or High.

4.8 Scores are suggested to encourage consistency and promote discussion between local authorities and APHA with a view to ensuring that resources are targeted appropriately.

Part 1: The Potential Risk

The National Element (Questions 1- 4)

4.9 This is pre-determined by asking a series of standard questions to provide a minimum risk score for particular premises and business types across Scotland.

4.10 In order to provide consistency, the scores decided in questions 1 to 4 cannot be altered for the premise types identified. Descriptive terms such as 'small', 'low', and 'short' are used here rather than actual figures. For farm sizes these terms are related to some generic figures in the attached Risk Scheme (page 15) that cannot be altered. The following is indicative criteria for distances and activity levels. They are:

Short distances – up to 50 kilometres.

Medium distances – 50 - 150 kilometres.

Long distances – over 150 kilometres.

Low levels of activity – less than once a week on average

Medium levels of activity – less than twice a week, on average.

High levels of activity – twice or more a week, on average.

4.11 It must be emphasised that these are only indicative and local factors should be taken into account.

Q.1 What is the maximum potential risk to animal health and welfare posed by the business?

4.12 The scoring should provide an indication of the risk posed by the business activity to other businesses and livestock both locally and nationally.

5 Minimal detriment – e.g. premises with smaller numbers of animals and low levels of movement activity across short geographical distances.

10 Minor detriment – e.g. premises with smaller numbers of animals but with medium levels of movement activity and/or across medium geographical distances.

15 Significant detriment – e.g. premises trading or moving larger numbers of animals on a regular basis e.g. premises with more than 50 dairy cows and 100 sheep that have medium levels of movement activity across medium geographical distances.

25 Major harm – e.g. animal gatherings / livestock markets or premises operated by high risk traders where animals arrive from multiple destinations, are mixed together for onward travel to multiple destinations

Q.2 To what extent do the activities of the business affect the hazard?

4.13 Scoring should reflect what influence the business's behaviour has on the actual risk e.g. the level of animal movement activity, regularity of visits to other farms, and the level of biosecurity on the premises.

5 Minimal – For example where the level of activity is low and well managed e.g. a small farm.

10 Low – e.g. where the level of activity is medium, or involves more complex activities.

15 Medium – e.g. where the size of the business, species kept and level of activity are medium and taking into consideration the level of effective management.

25 High – e.g. animal gatherings / livestock markets, high risk traders, large businesses with ineffective management or a bull hire firm that supplies large numbers of animals on short hires to multiple premises.

Q.3 How easy is it to comply with the range and complexity of legislation applicable to the business?

4.14 This should consider the ease with which the business / premises can comply with legislative requirements taking into account the range and complexity of legislation the business has control over, the numbers of livestock and how many different species are present e.g. different animal identification movement legislation, animal transport legislation etc.

10 Low – e.g. compliance with the basic identification, movement, record keeping and cleansing & disinfection requirements for a small number of animals.

15 Medium – e.g. compliance with the same basic rules, but for medium or high volumes of animal activities, e.g. a large farm, commercial hauliers, abattoirs.

20 High – e.g. animal gatherings / livestock markets or high risk traders that must comply with legislative requirements for high volumes of animal activities.

Q.4 How many third parties are likely to be affected by the business failing to comply?

4.15 This should provide a measure of the number of third parties likely to be put at risk by the business failing to comply with the legislation.

10 Low – e.g. premises with a small number of animal movements or low trading levels.

15 Medium – e.g. larger businesses whose trade extends for medium distances beyond the local area.

20 High – e.g. businesses with high levels of animal movements, whose trade extends for long distances beyond the local area, animal gatherings / livestock markets, high risk traders and livestock exporters / importers.

Part 2: Risk Management

The Local Element (Question 5(a) & (b))

4.16 These should be answered locally and determined, where appropriate and necessary, in consultation with the local APHA contact to amend the risk attached to premises from the national baseline.

Q.5(a) What confidence do you have in the business's control systems based on levels of previous and current compliance and knowledge of management's systems of control?

4.17 This should be an assessment of historical legislative compliance levels, the outcomes of any previous enforcement actions and confidence in the management of the business / premises up to a maximum score of 40.

0 High level of confidence – e.g. a high standard of compliance with statutory obligations and industry codes, farm assured (e.g. Quality Meat Scotland), minimum number of significant complaints and evidence of good documented management procedures including farm health plan signed by veterinary surgeon. No concerns about the business.

15 Medium level of confidence – e.g. a high standard of compliance with statutory obligations and industry codes, some significant complaints, evidence of documented procedures and systems. Little or no concern about the business.

30 Low level of confidence – e.g. some non-compliance with statutory obligations and industry codes, staff demonstrate awareness of legislation and necessary controls, evidence of a number of significant complaints, minimal documented procedures and systems. Some level of concern about the business.

40 Little or no confidence – e.g. a general failure in compliance with statutory obligations or a varying record of compliance, poor appreciation of relevant legislation and controls, large number of significant complaints, no procedures or systems in place. High level of concern about the business.

Q.5 (b) Are there good veterinary reasons why a premises needs a higher score e.g. livestock numbers and density locally, proximity to intensive farming premises, significant disease problems locally or any other veterinary reason?

4.18 The veterinary assessment is designed as a form of risk assessment over-ride, to be used where a premises is identified that when baseline and local element scored falls into a lower risk band than is appropriate and which, for veterinary reasons, needs to have its risk status raised to a higher risk band e.g. a pet pig keeper backing onto an intensive pig unit or a backyard poultry keeper next to a large intensive poultry unit. The veterinary element is designed to tackle this but it is also not compulsory that this element is considered for every premises. It is anticipated that discussions about these types of premises would take place between local authority and the local APHA on an individual basis when they were being risk assessed taking into account local priorities determined in consultation with stakeholders, local veterinary risk factors associated with the individual premises and livestock numbers and density in the local area. An additional score of 20 may be added here.

0 Low – e.g. few, if any, local disease concerns, low livestock numbers and density in local area.

10 Medium – e.g. stakeholder concerns over incursion and spread of disease in local area and significant livestock numbers and density locally.

20 High – e.g. high numbers and density of livestock and intensive farming locally and significant disease problems such as TB, Sheep Scab etc.

4.19 The maximum score of 60 provided for in the Local Element allows any premises to be increased to High Risk, where it is considered necessary, but only through consultation with the local APHA contact and is perfectly justifiable in this risk assessment scheme. It is expected that the thought processes and reasons behind any increase deemed appropriate based on the Local Element should be documented thoroughly for audit purposes and for the purposes of open government and attached to the relevant record(s), where possible, and/or noted in the annual Service Plan.

Local Authority National Risk Scores (to be used in conjunction with the National Risk Assessment Scheme)
  Potential Risk Hazardous Activities Complexity of legislation No. of affected third parties National minimum risk baseline score Local Element   Total overall risk (national and local scores)
            History / Management Veterinary Assessment  
Trader type Q. 1 score Q. 2 score Q. 3 score Q. 4 score Pre-determined total Q 5(a) score Q 5(b) score  
  Out of 25 Out of 25 Out of 20 Out of 20 Out of 90 Out of 40 Out of 20  
Animal Gatherings for sale or collection (e.g. Store market, slaughter market, slaughter collection, breed selections etc.) 25 25 20 20 90 High Risk      
Animal Gatherings for show or exhibition at national/regional level (numbers attending, geographical spread etc.) 15 15 20 20 70 Medium Risk      
Animal Gatherings for show or exhibition at local level 10 10 20 15 55 Low Risk      
Horse and Poultry sales 10 10 20 15 55 low risk      
High risk traders 25 25 20 20 90 High Risk      
Commercial Hauliers (including livestock exporters) 15 15 15 20 65 Medium Risk      
Livestock Premises with volume+ 15 15 20 20 70 Medium Risk      
Livestock Premises 5 5 10 10 30 Low Risk      
Abattoir 25 15 15 15 70 Medium Risk      
Port/airport (e.g. points of entry into UK) 25 10 10 20 65 Medium Risk      
Animal By-Products premises (e.g. Knackers / Hunt Kennels, Maggot Farms, Renderers, Incinerators etc.) 15 15 20 15 65 Medium Risk      
Existing Defra guide farm size identifiers (where species/type not specified use these as a guide) Single Species with Volume
Dairy Cows 100+
Beef Cattle 50+
Sheep/Goats 500+
Pigs (Breeders) 100+
Pigs (Fatteners) 1000+
Poultry (Broilers) 100000+
Poultry (Layers) 20000+

Low Risk: 0 – 59, Medium Risk: 60 – 85, High Risk: 86 – 150

Mixed Species Premises For livestock premises with mixed species which do not qualify as single species with volume the numbers of livestock numbers should be accumulated using the following livestock unit figures i.e. 1 cow = 5 sheep or 1 breeding pig or 10 fattening pigs or 1000 broilers or 200 layers E.g. A farm with 45 beef cattle + 20 sheep (= 4 cattle) giving cumulative score of 49 cattle and thereby qualifies as without volume. A farm with 75 dairy cattle + 150 sheep (= 30 cattle) giving cumulative score of 105 cattle and thereby qualifies as with volume. 'Animals at foot' should be regarded as a single unit. Livestock numbers should be taken from the time of the most recent visit.



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