Animal Welfare Committee (AWC)

AWC advises the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Scottish and Welsh Governments on the welfare of animals. This includes farmed, companion and wild animals kept by people.

Our terms of reference

  1. The Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) is an expert committee of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

  2. The Committee’s Terms of Reference are:

(i) To provide independent, authoritative, impartial and timely advice, to Defra and the Scottish and Welsh Governments:

  • on the welfare of farmed animals, including farmed animals on agricultural land, at market, in transit and at the place of killing
  • on any other matters that might be considered necessary to improve standards of animal welfare

(ii) To provide independent, authoritative, impartial, and timely advice, to Defra and the Welsh Government:

  • on the welfare of companion animals and wild animals kept by people

(iii) To provide independent scientific support and advice, as requested, in line with Article 20 of Committee Regulation (EC) No.1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing (also advising the Northern Ireland Assembly in this respect).

Our priorities

Our priorities are to:

  • provide advice to government on future farming reforms to deliver animal welfare enhancements
  • provide advice to government on sheep mutilations
  • provide advice to government on the welfare of companion animals and wild animals kept by people
  • provide quality assurance for revised codes of practice for the welfare of farmed livestock
  • respond to governments’ requests for scientific support on the welfare of farmed animals at the time of killing
  • work closely with the European Forum of Animal Welfare Councils (EuroFAWC)

Our advice

Our main publications are opinions and letters of advice to governments.

Recent advice:

Our members

Members of this group are:

  • Peter Jinman, Chair, past President, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
  • Martin Barker, pig farmer
  • Dr Andy Butterworth, veterinary surgeon
  • Richard Cooper, veterinary surgeon
  • Dr Jane Downes, independent veterinary consultant
  • Dr Troy Gibson, lecturer in Animal Welfare Science, Royal Veterinary College
  • Dr David Grumett, senior lecturer in Theology and Ethics, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Maria Carmen Hubbard, agricultural economist
  • Richard Jennison, veterinary surgeon
  • Richard Kempsey, poultry farmer
  • Dr Dorothy McKeegan, senior lecturer, University of Glasgow
  • Dr Romain Pizzi, RCVS recognised specialist and lecturer in Zoo & Wildlife Medicine
  • Dr Pen Rashbass, sheep breeder and conservation grazier
  • Professor Sarah Wolfensohn, Professor of Animal Welfare, University of Surrey and veterinary consultant
  • Dr James Yeates, veterinary surgeon

FAWC renamed (1 October 2019)

FAWC was renamed the Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) on 1 October 2019.

Plenary meeting summaries

20 April 2021: summary (MS Word Document, 16.4KB)

3 November 2020: summary (MS Word Document, 24.9KB)

11 February 2020: summary (MS Word Document, 15.8KB)

Contact details

awcsecretariat@defra.gov.uk