Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG)


The Cattle Health & Welfare Group (CHAWG) was an independent group that met in the past,  to collaboratively address relevant cattle health and welfare issues. CHAWG, which was financially supported by AHDB Beef & Lamb and AHDB Dairy, the group has since merged with the Sheep Health and Welfare Group (SHAWG) to form the Ruminant Health & Welfare Group

One CHAWG project looked at reducing antibiotic use in cattle and aimed to encourage responsible use, through the provision of best practice advice.

CHAWG’s remit was to:

  1. Provide an industry forum to encourage and coordinate a programme of economically focused work to improve 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 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.

CHAWG was also responsible for the following initiatives:

  • Farm Health Planning Seminars held at past Livestock events
  • 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 was an immensely valuable resource for the sector, as it provided a wide ranging and deep breadth of knowledge of cattle health and welfare.  Participants removed their commercial hats and collaborated to achieve on aims, on behalf of the cattle farming industry to improve 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 was agreed. The recommendations developed by the CHAWG Antimicrobial Usage (AMU) sub-group were based on extensive industry consultation. These complemented recommendations which were previously agreed for monitoring antibiotic use on dairy and sheep farms.  

The core measure a beef farm was 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 were recommended.

The report of the Cattle Health and Welfare Group Antimicrobial Usage Subgroup (CHAWG AMU) on the development of the metrics for beef farms which were approved by the industry can be found here

Supplementary materials on 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 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 recommended for the following core metrics to be 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 on: Dairy AMU metrics


The CHAWG was often requested to share with others work done on behalf of the cattle farming sector in relation to Health and Welfare. Past presentations which were previously used by members when addressing interested audiences can be found below -

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 managed these calculators for the industry and they viewed them as an excellent tool in cattle disease management.

There are calculators for BVD, Johnes and Digital Dermatitis which can be accessed by following the link: