UK – Newly introduced templates for livestock health planning for farms on a national food assurance scheme are not mandatory, a stakeholder meeting has decided.
Red Tractor Assurance (RTA) Animal Health plan templates are instead to be a “useful resource”, revealed the National Sheep Association last week.
Records must still be provided in other forms of recording systems, such as diaries.
Speaking after a Beef and Lamb sector board meeting with RTA, the NSA raised concerns about new beef and lamb health planning requirements.
Changes, introduced on 1 October, imposed an annual Health and Performance Review on farmers.
Culling and mortality records were also to form additional health and performance records, with abattoir feedback where possible.
Explaining the changes to Health Planning back in October, the RTA said: "To be able to sit back and conduct a useful review of anything, you need to keep records.
"In this case, the records you need are for mortality and culling, medicine records, including reason for treatment, abattoir or vet feedback, such as killsheets - if you receive them.
"At least once a year, we now expect you to take a look back through these records and tally up all the different causes/ potential reasons for the death/ treatment etc.
"When you’ve done this, you need to identify the top issues that you plan to act upon, and outline your actions to control or reduce their prevalence."
Commenting on the importance of regular farm auditing, EBLEX livestock scientist, Dylan Laws, said: "An active health plan will help make better informed and early decisions when it comes to stock health.
"Taking action to avoid problems before they escalate can save a lot of time and money. A health plan shouldn’t be something left in a cupboard until the next audit. A good health plan is actively reviewed with the farm vet or adviser and updated regularly.
In a statement released on Friday, the NSA said: “Health Planning is an important element of livestock farm management and RTA Farm Assurance.
“It helps farmers demonstrate to their customers and consumers that the health and welfare of their livestock is a priority for farmers.”
A transitional period for compliance with health planning will run until October 1 2015.
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