Approved Finishing Units (AFUs) in England and Wales

AFUs provide a route for rearing, fattening or finishing cattle from TB-restricted and unrestricted farms. They must be approved and licensed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and can only be approved in the High Risk Area (HRA) and Edge Area of England, and the High TB Areas of Wales.

AFUs cannot be approved in Scotland, the Low Risk Area (LRA) of England or the Low and Intermediate TB Areas of Wales. However, TB-restricted cattle from premises in these areas can be moved onto AFUs elsewhere in England and in Wales.

Types of AFUs

There are three types of AFU, with or without grazing, depending on where the unit is located.

Can be approved in the HRA and Edge Area of England, and the High TB Areas of Wales.

Can only be approved in the HRA of England, subject to certain criteria.

In England there are also rearing AFUs. Operators of these units can purchase calves from multiple TB-restricted herds, and at the appropriate stage in the production cycle, rear them and then move them to another AFU set up to receive older stock. Rearing AFUs cannot be approved in Wales.

Cows eating hay - TB Hub

Source of cattle

AFUs in England may source cattle under licence from:

  • TB-restricted premises in England, Wales and Scotland.
  • TB-dedicated sales (orange markets) in England only.
  • On-farm dispersal sales in England only.
  • AFUs in England only.
  • Unrestricted premises in England, Wales and Scotland.
Cows in a farmyard - TB Hub

Destination of cattle

Cattle within an AFU in England can only move off under licence:

  • Directly to a slaughterhouse in England or Wales.
  • To slaughter via an approved collection centre / slaughter gathering for TB-restricted cattle (red market) in England or Wales.
  • Directly to another AFU in England.

Cattle from an AFU cannot be licensed to a TB-dedicated sale (orange market). AFUEs have different requirements for source and destination of cattle.

Summary of conditions for approval and operation of AFUs in England

The following general conditions apply to all AFUs in England:

  • Approved for cattle only.
  • Not intended for pregnant animals and no breeding should take place within the unit. Contingency must be in place for any calves born unexpectedly in the unit.
  • Must be under TB movement restrictions (TB02) at all times. An AFU can only seek to regain officially TB free (OTF) status as part of an exit strategy agreed by APHA when it ceases to operate as an AFU.
  • Must be registered under a unique permanent County Parish Holding (CPH) number.
  • Must be self-contained, isolated from other cattle and have clear and discrete boundaries.
  • The unit cannot have a temporary CPH (tCPH) or Temporary Land Association (TLA) registered against it.

Specific conditions for AFUs without grazing 

Farm buildings with badger proof gates and sidings - Bovine TB
  • Can only be approved in the HRA and Edge Area of England.
  • Cattle sourced from TB-restricted herds and AFUs must have had a clear TB test within 90 days before the movement, with the exception of calves under 42 days old.
  • Strict biosecurity requirements must be in place, including wildlife proofing of buildings.
  • The default position is that no surveillance testing of cattle is carried out in the unit. However, APHA has the option to test in exceptional circumstances, for example if high numbers of carcases with lesions suspicious of TB are identified at slaughter.
  • APHA inspection of the premises and records is carried out at least once a year.

Specific conditions for AFUs with grazing 

  • Can only be approved in the HRA of England where M. bovis infection is assessed to be endemic in the local wildlife.
  • Cannot be approved in the Edge Area of England.
  • AFUs with grazing cannot be approved in badger control areas in England once the first year of controls has been declared effective. This includes proposed units where any of the grazing land is located in the badger control area.
  • The entire AFU including the grazing must be defined by a single outer boundary i.e. dispersed, non-contiguous grazing areas cannot be included.
  • Boundaries for the unit must be double fenced with a 3 metre gap or equivalent, including at gates.
  • Cattle sourced from TB-restricted herds and AFUs must have had a clear TB test within 90 days before the movement, with the exception of calves under 42 days old.
  • Routine surveillance testing of cattle occurs at 90 day intervals in the unit.
  • Strict biosecurity requirements must be in place.
  • APHA inspection of the premises and records is carried out at least once a year.

For more details about the specific terms and conditions for AFUs with and without grazing in England, visit GOV.UK. Please note that the conditions for AFUEs are different to those for AFUs. Full details can be found at GOV.UK.

Application for approval of an AFU in England

To apply to APHA for approval of an AFU, you need to read the guidance notes and complete the application form, both available on GOV.UK. Please make sure that you supply all the relevant supporting documents (e.g. site plan), otherwise your application may be delayed. If you need help completing the application form, or require more information, contact the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. Select the option for APHA and then bovine TB.

APHA will assess your application form and may need to contact you for additional information. An APHA vet will then visit the unit to check that the terms and conditions of approval and operation can be met. If the visit is satisfactory then APHA will approve the unit. If the terms and conditions cannot be met then APHA will explain the reasons why, and what needs to be done to approve the unit.

A unique CPH number will be issued for the AFU by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) once the unit has been approved. APHA will guide you through the application process and it’s important that you retain all documentation relating to your application.

Policy - Bovine TB