Launched in November 2023, the UK Sheep Welfare strategy, produced by Ruminant Health & Welfare and supported by a host of industry leaders and organisations across the whole farm to fork supply chain, is designed to help the UK sheep sector demonstrate progress in six key areas of sheep welfare over the next five years.

Being able to show our progress is key to the UK maintaining its status as a global leader in sheep welfare, and potentially being able to differentiate our products from those produced in other countries.

The six strategic goals for sheep welfare are:  
  • Healthy feet – reducing lameness for all sheep to improve overall health and welfare by increasing mobility, productivity, and longevity
  • Appropriate body condition – ensuring optimal body condition score to improve resilience to disease and fertility, and a breeding female’s ability to rear thriving lambs
  • Thriving lambs – ensuring lambs are born strong and thrive throughout life by providing good nutrition and protection against disease
  • Collaborative flock management – ensuring active collaboration between farmers, vets, and advisers to aid the development of optimal flock health and welfare plans
  • Positive welfare – ensuring all management decisions are made with a focus on welfare and considered through the eyes of the flock
  • Sheep comfort – ensuring every farm has a proactive pain management plan to optimise the comfort of sheep and aid their ability to overcome disease, illness, and/or injury

This strategy, and its goals, will ensure the UK sheep industry continues to stand for proven and excellent welfare, and help it compete internationally. 

RH&W has committed to helping the industry publish an annual progress report. The report will capture data evidencing the outcomes achieved by the strategy’s stakeholders, showing the actions taken annually and the progress being made towards achieving the six welfare goals.

A working group representing all key industry stakeholders, from farm to fork, will meet regularly to discuss progress, and opportunities to gather evidence of the industry’s ongoing progress with the sheep welfare strategy. 

This strategy is part of a wider body of work at RH&W to facilitate and create welfare strategies for the whole UK ruminant sector – the dairy cattle strategy was launched earlier in 2023 and the beef cattle strategy will follow in due course.

Supporting organisations