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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.

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VMG president joins House of Lords

News Story 1
 Miles Russell, president of the Veterinary Management Group (VMG), has been elected to the House of Lords as a crossbench hereditary peer.

He will join Lord Trees as a representative of the veterinary sector in the second chamber of the UK parliament.

Lord Russell said: "Those of us working in the animal health and veterinary sectors are only too aware of the importance of the work we do and the challenges we face.

"I will use my platform in the House of Lords to increase understanding of our sectors and to promote positive change." 

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News Shorts
Sixth case of bluetongue confirmed

A sixth case of bluetongue virus serotype 3 has been confirmed in the UK.

The case was detected in an animal on a premises linked to one of the farms within the Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) currently in place near Canterbury, Kent.

In response, the Animal and Plant Health Agency has extended the TCZ. Investigations into the spread of the disease are ongoing.

The cases in Kent come at a time when a new strain of the virus has spread rapidly across farms in the Netherlands. Both the Government and the British Veterinary Association have urged livestock keepers to remain vigilant.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and suspected cases must be reported immediately on 03000 200 301 in England or 03003 038 268 in Wales. In Scotland, possible cases should be reported to the local field services office.