March – April 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to Ruminant Health & Welfare

Welcome to the latest newsletter
It has been a very busy time since our last update with much planning going on in the background looking ahead to re-starting work on the beef welfare strategy as well as plans to report on the GB calf welfare strategy.

We are also progressing industry conversations around the welfare goals identified in the dairy and sheep strategies through 2024 to see where data is available to report on. We also need to ensure our understanding of the challenges our stakeholders and the sectors face,  and explore how we can collaborate and use our monthly steering group meetings to facilitate valuable knowledge transfer and conversations to deliver health and welfare progress in a number of key priority areas.

A big thank you goes to everyone who has been contributing to and joining the continued BTV-3 technical webinars and working group meetings – remember you can access recordings from past webinars and FAQ’s on a range of areas for bluetongue on the RH&W bluetongue hub.

If you or someone you know are keen to join the working group or get involved in our welfare strategies, or have further feedback for the group, please do email

Gwyn Jones

Bluetongue podcast: When will a BTV-3 vaccine be found? 

Veterinary vaccine consultant Professor Andy Peters, Dr Carrie Batten from The Pirbright Institute, and AHDB Head of Animal Health and Welfare, Dr Mandy Nevel, joined host John Bates to discuss how much progress has been made for this recent podcast presented by AHDB.

Click here to listen. 
For the latest update on BTV-3 and restrictions please visit our bluetongue hub for up to date information and signposts to all of Defra and APHA’s latest updates;

Farmers can access and call the dedicated bluetongue hotline to get advice or ask questions linked to the current situation – call the bluetongue hotline on 024 7771 0386.

Methane report reminder

The ‘Acting on methane’ report is a great source of information for having conversations about reducing emissions from ruminants. It outlines how the carbon intensity of production can be reduced which in turn reduces emissions.  Greatest impact is achieved by focussing on conditions which improve food conversion efficiency, growth rates and the involuntary or premature culling of breeding stock.

You can find the full report here.

Importance of exploring all abortions

The important topic of technical discussion within the Ruminant Health & Welfare steering group continues to be why we should be investigating all abortions to help farms identify diseases or issues facing the herd, or not as a route to improve cattle health and productivity as well as making informed risk assessments for staff and those coming into contact with the herd.

Watch this space for future updates and resources that the group are preparing.

Information for vets: sub-handbook.pdf (

Complete the 2024 lambing survey

This survey from the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Science and Medicine is now well underway and will close in May. 

Farmers, lambing staff and vet students are being encouraged to participate in this survey to help inform data that will allow the industry to better understand the impact and scale this year from Schmallenberg and BTV-3 virus.  

Take part: 2024 UK lambing survey (