Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG)

The Cattle Health & Welfare Group (CHAWG) is an independent group that meets to collaboratively address relevant cattle health and welfare issues.

CHAWG’s remit is to:

  1. Provide an industry forum that will 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.

The CHAWG is 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.

The makeup of CHAWG provides an immensely valuable resource for the sector, providing a wide ranging and deep knowledge of cattle health and welfare, though importantly are removing their commercial hats and collaborating on behalf of the cattle farming industry for the benefit of cattle health and welfare. 

Importantly the work that the CHAWG does compliments the work that our funders,  AHDB Dairy and AHDB Beef and Lamb are already undertaking for the cattle farming community.

Measuring and comparing the use of antibiotics on beef farms

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

The recommendations developed by the Cattle Health and Welfare Group’s (CHAWG) Antimicrobial Usage (AMU) Subgroup are based on extensive industry consultation. 

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 of the CHAWG AMU working group on the development of the metrics for  beef farms which have been approved by industry is available here

Measuring and comparing antibiotic use on dairy farms

The CHAWG Antimicrobial Use Group has 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 recommends 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 here: Dairy AMU metrics (Download PDF)

Antimicrobial usage data

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) commissioned the Cattle Health & Welfare Group (CHAWG) to undertake a scoping study to ascertain what antimicrobial usage data are currently being collected and what should be done to develop data collection systems in the UK cattle sector (both dairy and beef).  This report details the current situation and proposes a route forward for the cattle sector to pursue. View the UK cattle industry on antibiotic data press release.

An AMU (Anti Microbial Usage) Steering group has been set up in 2016 to facilitate the development of a system for collecting data on antibiotic use in the cattle sector across the United Kingdom.  The aim is for the system to be up and running by the end of 2017.

Cattle health and welfare reports

Since 2012, the CHAWG have undertaken to publish a biennial report examining health and welfare in Great Britain.  The latest report was published in September 2018 and previous reports are available below.

Cattle Health and Welfare Group report 2018 Progress update on dairy bull calves Cattle Health and Welfare Report 2016 Cattle Health and Welfare Report press release 2016 Cattle Health and Welfare Report 2014 Cattle Health and Welfare Report 2012

Dairy cow welfare strategy and reviews

First published in 2010 with annual progress reporting, the Dairy Cow Welfare Strategy continues to be one of the main pillars of the work undertaken by the Cattle Health and Welfare Group on behalf of the GB dairy sector. Detailed reports on the progress made in relation to cattle welfare were published in 2012, 2014 and 2016 (see above). In the 2018 strategy, a number of priorities have been expanded on. Progress against this strategy will be reported as part of the Cattle Health and Welfare Report for GB in 2018 and 2020.

Dairy cow welfare strategy 2017 Dairy cow welfare strategy report 2015 Dairy cow welfare report 2012 press release Dairy cow welfare strategy report 2012 Dairy cow welfare evidence table 2012 Dairy cow welfare strategy report 2011 Dairy cow welfare strategy report 2010


The CHAWG are often requested to share with others the work that we do on behalf of the cattle farming sector in relation to Health and Welfare. Presentations that have been previously used by members when addressing interested audiences can be found below.

Presentations delivered at the Farm Health Planning seminars at the Dairy Event (now Livestock Event) are available here:

Priority work areas

Though the CHAWG appreciate the funding and additional support from AHDB Beef and Lamb and AHDB Dairy, we do recognise that there are limitations to what we can effectively achieve as a Group. With this in mind the CHAWG annually reviews its Priority work areas and focuses on these to ensure tangible deliverables.

Other work activities

Briefing notes

Schmallenberg and Blue Tongue Briefing Mycoplasma Bovis briefing

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:

Driving BVD eradication initiative

As detailed in our priority work areas, the CHAWG is working collaboratively to develop a national programme of BVD eradication. As a result a small technical working group has been established to work across a multi stakeholder group to steer a course through. The information included in this section will keep you up to speed with developments and provide you with the opportunity to feed into the developmental phase should you have ideas or even information that may assist us in reacting the CHAWG’s desired goal.

BVD tech group report May 2012

Beyond calf exports stakeholder forum

In 2006, Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA convened the Beyond Calf Exports Stakeholder Forum with leading stakeholders to find realistic and economically viable solutions that would result in a greater number of male dairy calves being reared in the UK to meet the demand for beef on domestic and international markets. The Forum completed its activities in 2013 and CHAWG was asked to take over responsibility for the forum. Click on the link below to read the final report.

The Beyond Calf Exports Stakeholders Forum: A final report on progress (November 2013) The Beyond Calf Exports Stakeholders Forum: A Progress Report (2009)

CHAWG members

The CHAWG is an amalgamation of key industry organisations and (farming) representative bodies who have an interest or responsibility for cattle welfare.

A list of our current membership can be seen below:

Tim Brigstocke  – Chair

With representatives from the following organisations:

Animal Health Distributors Association

Animal Health & Welfare Board of England

Animal and Plant Health Agency

British Cattle Veterinary Association

AHDB Dairy



AHDB Beef & Lamb

Holstein UK/CIS

Livestock Auctioneers Association

National Beef Association

National Farmers Union

NFU Scotland


National Office of Animal Health

Red Tractor Beef

Red Tractor Dairy

Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Scottish Government

University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Science

Welsh Government