What was the Sheep Health and Welfare Group SHAWG)?

The Sheep Health and Welfare Group (SHAWG) was an independent body with membership that reflected the range of organisations involved in the sheep industry.  It acted as an extremely useful link between representatives of the sheep industry with government departments and their agencies. SHAWG was established in 2009 and had financial support from AHDB Beef & Lamb, then was superseded by Ruminant Health & Welfare.

SHAWG’s remit was:

  1. To reduce the impact of endemic disease by acting on surveillance data and new knowledge
  2. To ensure the industry is aware of the threat of any new or re-emerging diseases
  3. To promote and encourage responsible use of medicines, including anthelmintics and antimicrobials
  4. To ensure welfare is maintained as a priority for the sheep industry
  5. To highlight the role of nutrition in good health and welfare
  6. To deliver an integrated approach with all stakeholders, allied support industries, retailers and Government.

The Sheep Health and Welfare Group Conferences

The fifth Sheep Health and Welfare Group (SHAWG) conference took place on Tuesday 24 November 2020 via an online conferencing platform. Achieving record attendance, the speakers delivered inspiring presentations which generated excellent discussion.

The 2020 conference had the theme of working together for world-leading health and welfare and focused on target areas for the sheep industry to ensure it is ready for the challenges ahead. Speakers included vets, consultants, academics and farmers. The day was made up of three sessions focusing on ensuring responsible medicine use, priority areas for the sheep industry and an interactive session on the future vision for ruminant health and welfare. If you missed the conference then you can catch up by watching the recordings below.

Session 1: Safeguarding responsible medicine use – what does responsible medicine use look like in practice on sheep farms?

Session 2: Priority areas for the sheep industry – understanding and influencing behaviour, breeding for heath and welfare and improving lamb survival and performance.

Session 3: Coordinating a future vision for ruminant health and welfare – sheep disease, where does it really hurt? 

SHAWG was also responsible for the organisation and running of the Sheep Health and Welfare Conference which ran every two years. Details from previous conferences can be found below:

SHAWG CONFERENCE 2018

SHAWG CONFERENCE 2016

SHAWG CONFERENCE 2014

SHAWG CONFERENCE 2012



Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group

The Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group was a sub group of SHAWG, and now operates independently. It is responsible for coordinating the activity around antibiotic use in the sheep sector and report on behalf of the sheep industry to Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA).

Outputs of this group are available on the RUMA website:

The group is chaired by Fiona Lovatt with Charles Sercombe as the RUMA liaison and AHDB providing the secretariat. Group membership includes: National Sheep Association (NSA), Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS), National Farmers Union (NFU), Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), Red Tractor, Farm Assured Welsh Livestock and Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA).