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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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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.