Collecting suggestions for items that improve sheep health and welfare

Closed 31 Mar 2022

Opened 23 Feb 2022


As part of our future farming reforms we will be offering a range of capital grants to co-fund farmer investment in items that support improvements to productivity, animal health and welfare, and reduce environmental impacts. More details on these can be found in our Agriculture Transition Plan. Defra recently launched the Farm Investment Fund which provides grants to improve the productivity of farms in a sustainable way.  

Now we are seeking your input on the grants offered as part of the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway - an all-encompassing approach to improving the health and welfare of farmed animals in England. We have recently published an update which sets out each part of the Pathway. Through co-design with industry bodies, farmers, vets, welfare organisations and academics, we have determined an initial set of priorities for each livestock sector that reflect some of the very best opportunities for improving animal health and welfare. We reached collective agreement on most priorities; some represent compromises between differing stakeholder views. Focusing on these health and welfare priorities will allow us to deliver gradual continual improvement across the six main sectors: meat chickens, laying hens, pigs, sheep, dairy cattle and beef cattle. These also include the priority endemic diseases announced in November 2020 in the Agricultural Transition Plan. 

Supporting better stockmanship will be an overarching priority for all the species types as it is a general enabler for good health and welfare.   

For sheep, the priorities are set out below:  



Reducing lameness  

Lameness is one of the most common signs of ill health and discomfort among sheep affecting animal mobility, productivity and longevity. 

Improve ewe sustainability  

Ewes in optimum body condition are less susceptible to disease, produce better quality milk and can rear a greater number of healthier lambs. 

Pain management during castration and tail docking  

We want to support the licensing and uptake of pain relief to reduce the pain of these procedures.

Provide a tailored health screening  

Addressing a range of endemic diseases, initially focusing on internal and external parasites (and associated anthelmintic resistance), mastitis, ‘iceberg’ diseases and those inducing abortion.


We are looking to offer the following grants for capital items that support farmers in working towards these priorities:   

  1. Grants covering lower-cost equipment and technology items (valued roughly between £50 to around £10,000 each) such as footbaths, vaccination guns, handling equipment and weigh scales, feed weighing equipment. 

  1. Grants for larger-value bespoke infrastructure investments (likely valued over £10,000) such as new buildings, hard dry surfaces or hardstanding for gateways, or improvements to existing buildings and farm tracks.  

We are now looking to collect suggestions of items (such as the examples shared above) that would be most effective in helping our farmers to work towards these welfare priorities. Your suggestions will then be considered for inclusion in our grants schemes, with a finalised list decided following engagement with key industry stakeholders. We want to ensure we offer grants suitable for all types of farmers and covering the latest innovations, so we hope you will take the time to contribute your suggestions. It will take around 30 minutes to complete.  

To complete this questionnaire, it would be useful to have the following information to hand:  

  • Approximate cost of the item

  • Link to the item if available online  

  • Manufacturer, make and model of the item

  • Example suppliers/ stockist

  • Details on how the item improves animal health and welfare in line with our priorities   


The survey is completely voluntary; you are under no obligation to take part. However, co-design with industry is an important component of the Pathway and your participation is therefore welcomed. If you choose to take part in the survey, then your personal data will be collected on the basis that you consent for Defra to do so by answering the questions.

For information on how Defra processes your personal data please see the privacy notice below in related documents.


  • Farmers


  • Animal diseases
  • Animal welfare