Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG)

What is the Cattle Health and Welfare Group?

The Cattle Health & Welfare Group (CHAWG) is an independent group that meets to collaboratively address relevant cattle health and welfare issues. CHAWG is financially supported by AHDB Beef & Lamb and AHDB Dairy and one of the main projects is focussed around reducing antibiotic use in cattle and encouraging responsible use through best practice advice.

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.
  • Writing of the GB Cattle Health and Welfare Report 

The makeup of CHAWG provides an immensely valuable resource for the sector, providing a wide ranging and deep breadth of 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. 

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

Supplementary Materials for Cattle Health and Welfare Group Antimicrobial Usage Subgroup (CHAWG AMU) recommendations for measuring and comparing the use of antibiotics in dairy and beef are 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


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:

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: