New welfare strategy launched by the UK dairy industry

by AHDB Dairy on 15 June 2023.

The strategy is designed to help the industry show progress in animal welfare by 2028.

RH&W vice-chairman Gwyn Jones says the strategy is an update of a previous one aimed at improving the welfare of the UK’s dairy herd but, importantly, has support across the four nations. He added:

“The industry’s shared vision is for the UK dairy industry to demonstrate evidence-based progress in six key areas of cattle welfare by 2028.”

“Ability to provide evidence of progress will assist in maintaining UK status as a global leader in dairy cattle welfare; helping us compete with our international players.”

Six strategic goals

The six strategic goals in the strategy are:

  • Thriving cows – ensuring all dairy animals are bred, reared and cared for to thrive in all systems
  • Healthy feet – ensuring a proactive lameness management plan is in place on every UK dairy farm
  • Comfortable cows – maximising cow comfort in housing and at pasture
  • Appropriately nourished cows – ensuring a healthy body condition throughout the year
  • Healthy udders – continued improvements to udder health to reduce cases of mastitis
  • Positive welfare – moving towards providing an environment that allows animals to exhibit normal behaviours such as curiosity or play

Mr Jones says RH&W will support the industry to make progress in these six key areas, as research has shown the public expects the delivery of good welfare as well as good health, and the bar for industry standards must continue to be high. “The UK must ensure standards deliver excellent welfare, providing a solid platform for UK supply chains to build on in the future,” he added.

“To enable the UK dairy industry to compete internationally, the sector will need to be able to provide evidence of progress on welfare. By doing so across the four nations, the UK will be positively differentiated from other countries.”

RH&W steering group member and senior animal health and welfare scientist at AHDB, Dr Jenny Gibbons, said AHDB 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 to achieve the six welfare goals.

Dr Gibbons said: “These actions will be reported by groups of key industry stakeholders working together to gather evidence of industry achievements and progress on the six goals.”

In developing the strategy, the key stakeholder groups have been identified and split into the following categories:

  • Farm assurance
  • Farmers
  • Government
  • Processing supply chains, including markets and hauliers
  • Retail supply chains
  • Research organisations
  • Commercial organisations
  • Veterinary surgeons

Mr Jones and Dr Gibbons said that now the strategy has been launched, the wider UK dairy supply chain must work together to deliver it.

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

Visit the Ruminant Health & Welfare website

View the Dairy Cattle Welfare Strategy 2023–2028

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