Although standards are relatively practical to implement, and should be seen as a way of improving standards on farm, there are still non-conformances raised during inspections, ABM’s development manager Sarah Long told Farmers Weekly.

A review of the last 18 month inspection period has highlighted the top five non-conformances following 20,000 beef and sheep inspections.

Number One
Written manure management plans – 7%

Even with rules regarding Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and risk of environmental pollution, nearly 1500 farms inspected didn’t have an adequate manure management plan.

But this doesn’t mean producers aren’t meeting requirements for handling or spreading manure, explains Miss Long.

“The point of having a plan or policy is to ensure there is enough land available to spread farmyard manures, or other disposal measures are in place, as well as demonstrating an understanding of potential environmental problems, as it is a requirement under cross-compliance,” explains Miss Long.

“A simple plan will help identify where and at what rate to spread manures, slurry, dirty water and other organic waste.

Farmers will benefit, while minimising pollution risks.

It will also help assess whether enough storage is provided.”

As a minimum she says producers will be expected to have a map of the farm identifying where manure is applied, any water courses or bore holes that may affect manure application and demonstrate there is enough land area available for manures to be applied without exceeding a total nitrogen application of 250kg/ha a year.

Useful information:

Number Two
medicine records – 6.3%

When ABM began closely monitoring non-conformances in 1999, some 25% of farmers inspected had inadequate medicine records.

Today, rather than failure to keep a record book, the most common errors are farmers missing batch numbers or anaesthetic applications, many of which are honest mistakes, but must be rectified to ensure food safety requirements are met, Miss Long says.

“Each unit must maintain up-to-date and legal medicine purchase and administration records, including records of medicines purchased, details of supplier, batch numbers and identity of animals treated.”

All treatments including vaccinations, anaesthetic, worming and dipping must be recorded for all animals, she adds.

Useful publications:

  • The RUMA Guidelines for Cattle and Sheep, www.ruma.org.uk
  • Veterinary Medicines – Safe use by farmers and other animal handlers, produced by HSE (01787 881 165).

Number Three
health plan – 4.6%

All farmers must have a written herd/flock health plan to help review their approach to animal health on a regular basis and demonstrate commitment to planned, improved animal health and welfare.

And although producers are encouraged to seek vet advice in preparing the plan, Miss Long says it isn’t essential, but producers must have a named vet for the farm.

Number Four
Availability of DEFRA Guidance on the Transport of Casualty Animals – 3.3%

The ABM standard requires producers to have a copy of the DEFRA Guidance on the Transport of Casualty Animals as a point of reference to show they are aware of requirements when transporting casualty animals.

“By having a copy of the booklet, producers are demonstrating they have the correct information to hand.”

Useful publication:

  • DEFRA Guidance on the Transport of Casualty Animals (08459 556 000).

Number Five
Worming of dogs and cats (where practicable) – 2.6%

A record of dogs and cats being wormed on farm must be clearly stated in the medicine record book or diary.

The spread of disease from cats and dogs is recognised to be associated with sheep, but all producers must record the treatment due to the risks it can present to human health.

All standards must be rectified according to scheme rules before a certificate can be awarded.

Repeated non-conformances against any standard will result in suspension or withdrawal from the scheme.