If you keep any animal for agricultural purposes, you have a legal obligation to protect its welfare by ensuring appropriate standards of care and husbandry. This is also a requirement under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and failure to comply may lead to a reduction in your payments.
The requirements include:
• Regular inspection of the animals by staff that have the correct skills and knowledge. The frequency will depend upon the amount of human attention required by your husbandry system and there are specific minimum rules for certain livestock sectors including calves (SMR11). Sick or injured animals must be cared for appropriately without delay. They may need isolation and additional advice from a vet must be sought if their condition does not improve.
• Maintenance of on-farm records, detailing medicinal treatment provided to animals and any deaths. It is important that these records are retained for three years from the date of the treatment and/or inspection.
• Ensure that appropriate accommodation is provided for the animals, with sufficient space and the ability to move freely. The environment should be clean and free from materials that can injure or cause harm to the animal. Buildings should be correctly ventilated and lit with artificial light if there is insufficient daylight.
• Suitable feed and water must be provided. The animals must be fed a wholesome diet, free from substances that can cause harm, and they must have access to a suitable water supply.
• You must not carry out any mutilation or intervention on your animals, unless the action is classed as a ‘permitted procedure’, and you must not carry out breeding procedures that are likely to cause harm.
• Protect animals kept outdoors by providing adequately drained lying land and protection from the weather, predators and other risks to their health.
Further guidance on animal welfare requirements can be located under Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) 11 – 13 in ‘The guide to cross compliance in England 2015’.