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Animal Welfare

UK sheep farming boasts some of the highest health and welfare standards of any agricultural industry across the globe. When you purchase UK sheep products, whether it be lamb, mutton, milk or wool, you can be certain in getting quality and provenance in return. Legislation covers every element of food production, from the conditions that sheep are kept in and the way they are individually identified, to how the land, soil and water on the farm is protected.

Many sheep farmers are also part of voluntary assurance schemes , labels for which you will see on food packaging across UK stores. These schemes incorporate even higher standards than legislation prescribes. Look out for assurance scheme labels to support UK farmers and the high health and welfare standards that they work to.

There are many codes of best practice farmers adhere too as well. These best practice guides have been researched for a multitude of aspects of sheep farming, including sheep shearing, dipping, livestock transport, use of medicines and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These guidelines are followed across the industry, furthering the high-welfare husbandry that is demonstrated by sheep farmers across the UK.

UK sheep farm flocks are relatively small in global terms, with sheep reared outdoors and on pasture, in the most natural of ways. This means that UK sheep farming practices are far from the intensive style of operations seen elsewhere around the globe. The stratified system of sheep farming in the UK, where breeds are farmed in habitats reflective of their natural suitability, exemplifies how the natural sheep farming methods work with sheep characteristics to maximise their health and welfare.

Anyone wishing to farm sheep must follow strict regulatory guidelines. Prospective sheep farmers must become registered and obtain licenses, and keep a strict Holding Register and veterinary/medicine records. This ensures that those wishing to farm sheep in the UK will be doing so safely and professionally, so that ultimately you as the consumer can expect produce that boasts top standards for health and welfare. For more information about starting your own flock, please click here .

The immense work that farmers do to ensure the highest health and welfare standards across their flocks, and the regulations that they abide by, means the UK is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world for sheep farming. For example, the UK is one of only four countries to receive the highest possible grade for ‘commitments to improving animal welfare’ by the Animal Protection Index.

When next purchasing any sheep products, remember to buy produce that has been farmed in the UK. That way, you will not only be supporting your farmers, but you will be helping to support the world-leading health and welfare standards that are upheld on our farms.

Assurance scheme logos to look out for