A government fund for new or refurbished calf housing has opened for applications from beef and dairy producers.
The Calf Housing for Health and Welfare fund offers grants ranging from £15,000 to £500,000. It covers up to 40% of the cost of calf housing and buildings which improve health and welfare for beef and dairy calves.
For the purposes of the grant, the term ‘calf’ refers to domestic cattle up to six months old.
Grant funded calf housing must provide a good ambient environment and facilitate social contact through pair or group housing, says Defra.
The government says good ambient environment must ensure good air quality, temperature, and humidity within the building through choice of suitable location, ventilation and other building features.
How to apply
Successful projects will improve calf health and welfare, enhance environmental sustainability and introduce innovation on the farm, says Defra. “If your project meets all these priorities, it’s more likely to be accepted,” it adds.
Eligible applicants must be existing cattle farmers, including calf rearers, with 11 or more cattle. Any buildings which are built or upgraded with money from the grant must be located in England.
“You must either own the land you’re building on or have a tenancy agreement for the land until five years after the project is complete,” says Defra. “You can apply if your current agreement will end sooner than five years after the project, if you expect it to continue.
Grant must be used solely for the purposes of businesses in England. Grant funding must not be used to cross-subsidise any related, linked, parent, subsidiary, partnership, joint venture businesses or operations based in Northern Ireland.
The grant is part of Defra’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway. The animal health and welfare priorities it seeks to deliver for the cattle sector have been agreed with industry representatives.
For youngstock, priorities include improving pain management during disbudding, dehorning and castration – as well as the greater adoption of prolonged analgesia to improve the calf welfare and performance.
Defra says many farm buildings are not optimally designed for cattle – especially calves. It has pledged to encourage improvements in ventilation, cow comfort, loafing areas and enrichments such as scratching brushes.
In terms of adult cattle, priorities include improving the welfare of cattle at pasture through upgrading shelter, drainage, gateways and tracks that support the normal behaviours associated with grazing and being outdoors.
Potential applications can check their eligibility online at www.bit.ly/calfhousing. The fund will stay open until the end of November.