NSA Breakfast Club webinar - The politics of numbers: What's the value of sharing flock figures?

Date: 6th April 2022

Time: 8.30am

Location: Online - Zoom

Below is a full report on the Breakfast Club webinar. To watch the webinar, click here.

This webinar focused on what information/data is available at a farm level, from production figures to the level of inputs, including vets & medicines, through to movements etc. With multiple initiatives on the horizon, Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, Livestock Information Service, Medicine Hub etc, the “value” of this data was hotly debated, together with questions on where, how and who it is shared with and what could it lead to.

Data can benefit farmers through ‘knowledge-based trading’, demonstrating food from animals is responsibly produced to the highest of standards. These insights are used to guide every day decisions on the farm but also to enable national level reporting in areas such as antimicrobial resistance, showing the good job farmers with the support of vets and sheep health advisers are doing in protecting resources and human health. 

Other potential benefits include collated information providing a national picture of disease in terms of status, trends, reaction to control programmes, relative treatment efficacy and can underpin coordinated activities to manage disease at a local level – the For Flock’s Sake sheep scab project in England being an example of how this has worked.

However, as can be expected, concerns related to the sharing of data, from questions relating to ownership and data value, permissions for use, and discrimination in the event of a health problem on farm, good and well understood data governance and compliance are a crucial part of building trust and confidence in data sharing. Where data might be shared for purposes such as research or for planning and commissioning support services, it is important it is done responsibly and accurately and used for industry benefit. Trust is an essential part of data sharing, and this relates to statutory data and any data provided voluntarily or used for knowledge-based trading. The key question was, how can we get more value from data sharing while negating the risks that more openness presents?


Jeanette Allen , Chair of Data Advisory Panel

Jonathan Statham MA VetMB DCHP FRCVS, Chair of Animal Health and Welfare Board of England

Lesley Stubbings OBE; BSc Hons; FRAgS, Independent sheep consultant