Farmers, vets and industry stakeholders will be joining forces at this year’s Sheep Health and Welfare Group Conference to focus on world-leading health and welfare standards.
Acknowledging the need for continuous knowledge exchange and practical solutions to sheep industry challenges, the conference is taking place online on Tuesday 24 November from 9am to 4pm.
Nigel Miller, qualified vet and chair of the newly formed Ruminant Health & Welfare (RH&W) group, will be leading the discussion on co-ordinating a future vision for the UK’s sheep farms.
“We are in a position where we should be looking to the future – and the conference is all about that,” he says. “It’s about driving efficiency and recognising that health and welfare plays a critical role in maintaining a profitable sheep sector.”
In the interactive session attendees will be invited to voice their own concerns and perceptions of diseases, syndromes, and their impact on productivity and welfare. “Endemic diseases are a significant concern to farmers – diseases do not respect country borders and can wreak havoc on animal health, welfare and food production,” stresses Mr Miller.
Leading on sheep disease, the session will help pinpoint productivity sinkholes. “We will be looking at diseases that strip-out efficiencies in our systems, and those that cause real pain,” he explains.
“We often take our high welfare culture for granted, but for us it’s important that we do get it right.”
Of course, theory needs to be applicable in practice, too. “How we manage disease risk and infection will be a part of tightening efficiencies and maintaining profitability, without compromising our food production standards.”
The one-day conference will provide a platform for well-respected speakers – vets, consultants, academics, and farmers – over three key sessions: Safeguarding responsible medicine use, priority areas for the sheep industry, and Mr Miller’s interactive session.
To get a better understanding of views from the farm gate, the newly formed RH&W has launched a survey to identify disease priorities across the ruminant sectors and inform efforts to tackle health challenges eroding performance and welfare on farms.
“Through the survey we will be able to get a grip on what the greatest concerns are over industry-wide diseases and welfare impacts, while also identifying specific regional or sectoral disease issues in sheep and cattle,” says Mr Miller.
Survey participants can opt for a chance to win a farmhouse hamper worth £50. The survey closes on 10 January 2021 and can be completed at https://ruminanthw.org.uk/index.php/health_welfare_survey/
- Tickets for the SHAWG conference are free but must be booked in advance, register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sheep-health-welfare-conference-2020-registration-111287361494.