Defra unveils £10m funding pot for cattle shed upgrades

Defra is making £10m of additional funding available to livestock farmers in England to replace aging cattle sheds with state-of-the art facilities.

The Animal Health and Welfare Infrastructure Grant will allocate awards to farmers ranging from £15,000 to £500,000, prioritising new and upgraded calf housing. The application window will open later this summer.

Successful applicants could receive funding for a variety of building types – for example, the construction of A-frame buildings to house dairy calves from birth to weaning, or a mono-pitch building on a beef unit to house three- to six-month-old calves. Any grants will have to be co-financed by the farmer

See also: Animal Health and Welfare Pathway launched under SFI

Through this grant, cattle farmers will also be able to access funding for rooftop solar panels on calf housing buildings, fulfilling a key commitment made by prime minister Rishi Sunak at the Farm to Fork Summit, held at Downing Street in May.

This will enable farmers to improve the thermal insulation of their building while also providing low-cost energy for calf housing.

The NFU welcomed the announcement of grant funding for cattle farmers at a time of “ever-increasing financial pressures on farm”.

Review information

NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw said: “It’s vital that farmers review the information carefully, make any claims as quickly as possible and, if accepted, give themselves as much time as possible to make necessary arrangements on farm, such as planning permissions.”

The government has also announced more than £19m has been awarded to over 3,000 pig, poultry, sheep and cattle farmers who successfully applied to the first round of the Animal Health and Welfare Equipment and Technology Grant.

These grants, of £1,000-£25,000, will help farmers with items ranging from livestock handling equipment to reduce lameness in sheep or cattle or sealed water tanks to reduce disease transmission in outdoor pigs, to an automated monitoring system and sensors that free up farmers’ time and limit environmental stress in poultry housing. 

Both grants form part of the government’s wider Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, which supports farmers to transition to higher-welfare practices and systems, while encouraging sustainable food production.

They are part of the government’s wider investment of £2.4bn/year in farming in England for the rest of this parliament.