Defra announces further funding to tackle endemic diseases

Defra has just announced a range of additional funding to tackle endemic diseases in livestock.

Defra has just announced a range of additional funding to tackle endemic diseases in livestock across the country.

A Defra’s spokesperson said that by reducing the levels of endemic disease in livestock, farmers can increase productivity, support their businesses and unlock wider benefits.  

They added: “The very nature of endemic disease means it is an ongoing concern. Managing it requires the sustained effort of livestock keepers, the support of vets and money.”  

In recognition of this, the government will be offering additional financial support to:   

  • Eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in cattle   
  • Control porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) in pigs   
  • Tackle a range of health conditions in sheep  
  • A bolt-on to the yearly vet visits  

A bolt-on to the yearly vet visits

In 2023, Defra introduced the Annual Health and Welfare Review, which is a fully funded vet visit that happens on a yearly basis.

During the review, keepers of cattle, sheep and pigs can access bespoke health and welfare advice and test for endemic diseases and other conditions using a vet of their choice.

The current offer is:   

  • £522 for a beef cattle review   
  • £372 for a dairy cattle review   
  • £436 for a sheep review   
  • £684 for a pig review   

In addition to this, Defra is now offering:   

  • £215 for cattle with no BVD   
  • £837 for beef cattle where BVD is present in the herd   
  • £1,733 for dairy cattle where BVD is present in the herd   
  • £639 for sheep   
  • £933 for pigs  

Defra confirmed that the money will go towards more in-depth diagnostic testing for PRRS; identifying persistently infected cattle on farms with BVD and giving advice on how to eliminate the disease from the farm.

In the case of sheep, the farmer will, in consultation with their vet, choose from a range of health improvement packages. These will target the syndrome that is most prevalent and provides the most benefit to treat in each flock.

This extra funding will be available in summer.

Defra’s spokesperson said: “We’ll roll the offer out gradually. We’ll start with sheep, pig and beef cattle, before expanding to include dairy farmers soon after.”

Eligible farmers will also receive funding for the delivery of a biosecurity assessment followed by bespoke advice to help farmers identify how diseases are most likely to spread into their herd or flock, and across their farm.

How to prepare     

To access the additional funding, livestock farmers first need to have an Annual Health and Welfare Review. Once they have had a review done, they can access the extra support.   

To sign up for a review, farmers need:   

  • a single business identifier (SBI) linked to a county parish holding number (CPH) registered in England   


  • 11 or more beef cattle   
  • 21 or more sheep   
  • 51 or more pigs.   

This will make for one seamless service where farmers will be able to apply for a three-year agreement to carry out the review annually, with an option to take up the offer of the extra funding.  

Making testing less invasive for pigs  

Defra said that as part of its work to improve the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, it will soon make a change to how pigs can be tested for PRRS.

Its spokesperson added: “Livestock keepers and vets told us that making the testing of pigs less stressful for the animals was a priority. As a result, the manner of testing will change from blood sampling to oral fluid sampling by cotton ropes.

“We’re always looking for ways to make our service better for vets and farmers, and the feedback we get from you helps us to do that.”

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