Natural England
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Natural England relaxes rules on supplementary feeding to help livestock farmers in AE schemes through the big freeze

Natural England recognises the severe problems faced by livestock farmers as a result of freezing weather conditions and has announced steps today to make it easier for them to feed their animals.

Farmers in agri-environment schemes which normally impose restrictions on supplementary feeding will now be able to give their livestock additional feed to help maintain animal welfare during the cold period. This is a temporary relaxation and takes immediate effect for the duration of the severe cold weather.

Wherever possible, land not under agri-environment land management options should be used first for supplementary feeding. Where this is not possible, agri-environment land can now be used for supplementary feeding but to reduce damage to environmental features Natural England is offering the following guidance:

  • Supplementary feeding areas should be moved whenever possible

  • Any leftover forage should be completely removed to reduce damage to the sward after the snow has thawed

  • Feeding on archaeological features should be avoided

  • On moorland and common land, where landowners restrict the practice of supplementary feeding, graziers should consider whether to inform them of their intention to feed during this period of adverse weather

  • Farmers on SSSI-designated land should contact their Natural England adviser before undertaking supplementary feeding

Supplementary feeding may continue for four days after the snow has cleared if the ground remains frozen. It should cease once the ground thaws.

Under normal circumstances farmers and land managers are required to contact Natural England prior to undertaking any activity which is not part of their agri-environment agreement. On this occasion, however, it is not necessary for farmers to contact Natural England for permission for supplementary feeding.

Robin Tucker, Natural England’s Executive Director for National Delivery, said: “Natural England wish to do all we can to help farmers and their animals through this difficult time. During this severe weather farmers can be assured that they can now take the necessary steps to feed their animals without putting their agri-environment payments at risk.”

Farmers seeking further information should contact their local Natural England office.

Notes to editors

The derogation relates only to agri-environment schemes operated by Natural England: Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas and the newer Environmental Stewardship, which encompasses ELS, HLS and OELS.

About Natural England
Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

  • We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.

  • We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Marine Conservation Zones, and advising widely on their conservation.

  • We run England’s Environmental Stewardship green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.

  • We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.

  • We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.

For further information contact:
Graham Tibbetts in the National Press Office on 0845 603 9953, or
out of hours 07970 098005.


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