Sheep Welfare Assessment

Welfare Assessment

Shepherding 1Visit our Animal Welfare Assessment page to find out more about welfare assessment and visit the AssureWel website for practical information on assessing the welfare of sheep. Compared to other farm animal species, there are few validated animal-based measures of sheep welfare have been developed. 

There are opportunities to use qualitative judgements of behaviour (Wemelsfelder and Farish, 2004) and quantitative animal-based measures (Phythian et al., 2010). The table below highlights the measures that the AssureWel project has identified as being important to sheep welfare.

Individual measure 1. Lameness
Flock measures 2. Body Condition Score (see chart on right)
3. Dirtiness
4. Fleece loss
5. Skin irritation
6. Sheep needing further care
7. Mutilations
8. Ear integrity
9. Response to stockman
Records measures 10. Mortality
11. Health and welfare planning and management
a. Lameness – verifying self-assessment and management
b. Body Condition Score – verifying self-assessment and management
c. Mastitis
d. Faecal egg count testing
Extracted from AHDB Beef and Sheep Better Returns Programme

Body Condition Score can be used as part-measure of sheep welfare (from AHDB Beef and Sheep Better Returns Programme)


Sheep Welfare assessment References


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  • Livestock should be land-based and integrated with farm cropping enterprises
  • Animals should be provided with conditions that enable them to exhibit natural behaviours
  • Dependency on veterinary medicines should be reduced without jeopardising the well-being of animals


outdoor access

Animals having outdoor access, shade, shelter, lighting and sufficient space for them to undertake free movement and to exhibit natural behaviors.


Using breeds and strains well-suited and adapted to the prevailing conditions.

Health Plan

Implementing herd and flock planning based on sound ecological practices and epidemiological knowledge.


Undertaking good practice with regard to biosecurity.

closed herds

Maintaining animals in closed herds and flocks and at stocking rates that enables free-movement, reduces risks of disease spread and minimises environmental damage.

forage and grazing

Forage and grazing being the main source of nutrients for ruminants, and continuously available to non-ruminants.

production practices

Avoiding the use of mutilations as standard production practices.


Improved understanding and responsible usage of veterinary medicines.