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Sheep industry launches welfare strategy
The strategy will focus on elements of sheep welfare including lameness and pain management.
Five-year plan aims to improve sheep welfare.

The industry body Ruminant Health and Welfare (RH&W) has launched the first ever UK Sheep Welfare Strategy.

The initiative, which will run until 2028, aims to help the sheep sector improve animal welfare and demonstrate evidence-based progress.

The strategy includes six strategic goals:
  • Healthy feet – reducing lameness
  • Appropriate body condition – ensuring optimal body condition scores
  • Thriving lambs – providing good nutrition and protecting against disease
  • Collaborative flock management – active collaboration between farmers, veterinary surgeons and advisers
  • Positive welfare – focusing on welfare when making all management decisions
  • Sheep comfort – making sure every farm has a proactive pain management plan.

More than 95 businesses and organisations have signed up to the strategy.

National Sheep Association chief executive and RH&W steering group member Phil Stocker said: “This strategy will provide great ammunition to drive forward the sector across a wide range of welfare improvements over the next five years including the licensing of analgesics, influencing Government support programmes, and conditions in transport and at slaughter.

“The strategy contains a five-step plan for delivery, which includes a commitment for routine meetings with a working group representing all stakeholders so we can agree an action plan for each of the six goals.

“It will be challenging, but through RH&W we are determined to find ways to demonstrate and evidence the progress by producing an annual progress report for transparency.”

A similar strategy for dairy cattle was launched by RH&W earlier this year and there are plans to launch one for beef cattle.

Image ©
RH&W

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."