Shake-up urged for the SCWS
Major changes to the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (SCWS) are included in a comprehensive review of the programme.
The proposed changes could result in farmers being asked to supply a host of additional details when registering calves.
The value-for-money review concludes that the SCWS is too complex and should not be continued in its current format.
However, it adds that the scheme should not be axed altogether. The 118-page assessment notes that the scheme requires up to 25 separate transactions per animal.
As a result, it proposes that major changes to the operation of the scheme should be considered. The review lists a range of new options designed to ensure that the gains made under the scheme can be "consolidated".
However, it also proposes that measures now well established under the current scheme no longer receive public funding.
It states that there are signs that some of the welfare practices promoted within the SCWS would continue on most farms even in the absence of a scheme. The authors also estimate that up to 30pc of farmers were implementing elements of the scheme before they ever joined the SCWS.
Crucially, the review suggests that some of the existing measures covered by the SCWS become mandatory. Sources close to the steering group that conducted the review indicated that sire and calving details would be targets for inclusion in the statutory calf registration process, similar to a system already in force in Denmark.