What was the Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG)?

The Cattle Health & Welfare Group (CHAWG) was an independent group that met to collaboratively address relevant cattle health and welfare issues. CHAWG was financially supported by AHDB Beef & Lamb and AHDB Dairy and was superseded in 2020 by Ruminant Health & Welfare.

CHAWG’s remit was to:

  1. Provide an industry forum that would encourage and coordinate a programme of economically focused improvements to cattle health and welfare across Britain.
  2. Act as a forum to prioritise the research, development and knowledge interaction needs of the GB cattle industry in relation to cattle health and welfare, to ensure knowledge gap identification, co-ordination and minimal duplication.
  3. Assist in the dissemination of knowledge across the industry through the participating organisations within the group and others where appropriate.
  4. Liaise closely with all stakeholders such as levy boards and educational institutions to promote consistent regional dissemination of national work and encourage the uptake of technological advances and best practice.
  5. Provide guidance and be a resource for the Chief Veterinary Officers across GB and other relevant Government bodies on cattle health and welfare matters, including the early stages of policy development and other areas, where appropriate.

CHAWG was also responsible for the following initiatives:

  • Farm Health Planning Seminars held at the Livestock event.
  • Implementation and annual reporting on progress of the Dairy Cow Welfare Strategy.
  • Writing of the GB Cattle Health and Welfare Report
  • Developing metrics for measuring antibiotic use in cattle.

Measuring and comparing the use of antibiotics on beef farms

An industry standard for measuring and monitoring antibiotic use on beef farms was agreed following extensive industry consultation. The recommendations complement those previously agreed for monitoring antibiotic use on dairy and sheep farms.

The core measure a beef farm is advised to use is the total weight of antibiotics used in a year (in milligrams) relative to the average weight of the cattle population at risk of treatment on the farm during the year (in kilograms).  This is similar to the core mg/kg measures already in use by the dairy and sheep sectors.  Additional measures are also recommended.

The report and supplementary recommendations of the CHAWG Antimicrobial use (AMU) working group on the development of the metrics for beef farms which have been approved by industry is available on the RUMA website.

Measuring and comparing antibiotic use on dairy farms

The CHAWG Antimicrobial Use Group published a core set of standard metrics for benchmarking antibiotic use on UK dairy farms following consultation with the wider dairy industry. The CHAWG AMU group recommended that the following core metrics are calculated on dairy farms, for both total usage and overall usage of Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs), as defined by the Antimicrobial Advice Ad Hoc Expert Group (AMEG), i.e. fluoroquinolones, 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins and colistin:

The report of the CHAWG AMU working group on the development of the metrics for dairy farms which have been approved by industry is available on the RUMA website.

Disease cost calculators

As part of the Defra funded Farm Health Planning Initiative in 2009/10, Reading University developed a series of cattle disease cost calculators in an attempt to better understand the costs of disease and importantly the costs associated with different mitigating actions. The CHAWG now manage these calculators for the industry and see them as an excellent tool in the toolbox for disease management.

Currently there are calculators for BVD, Johnes and Digital Dermatitis and can be accessed by following the below link:
www.fhpmodels.reading.ac.uk/models.htm