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About Animal Health and Welfare NI

Animal Health and Welfare NI (AHWNI) was formally launched in 2012. It is an initiative by farmers’ organisations and the wider cattle industry to promote improved cattle and sheep health and welfare within Northern Ireland. It is overseen by a board of directors. Its remit is to address diseases and conditions of cattle and sheep which are endemic in Northern Ireland. 

AHWNI seeks to benefit livestock producers and processors by providing the knowledge, education and the coordination required to effectively control and wherever possible to eradicate the most important diseases of ruminant livestock within Northern Ireland.

Board Members

John Thompson
John is a former President of the Ulster Farmers Union and a former member of the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust. He has been chair of the Agrisearch Dairy Committee and was a member of the Northern Ireland Agri Food Strategy Board and of Rural Support. He is an honorary member of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association having been recognised for his work in promoting animal health and welfare.
Gary Watson
Gary is Producer Services Manager for United Dairy Farmers, with primary responsibility for the UDF milk recording service (Dairy Herd Management). As part of his role he has overseen the introduction of health testing packages for BVD, IBR, Johne’s disease and leptospirosis.
Lindsey Drummond

Lindsey is a veterinary research officer in AFBI, working within the Disease Surveillance and Investigation Branch. She has a longstanding interest in production animal medicine and is a Cow Signals® Certified Master.

Sean Fitzpatrick

Sean is a beef and sheep farmer from Co. Down. He is a past President of NIAPA and is currently their Co. Down chairman.

Alan Cleland
Alan is a dairy and beef farmer from Co. Down. He is past Chairman of Holstein NI and has been both Chairman and President of the UK British Blue Cattle Society. Alan takes a keen interest in animal health.
Crosby Cleland

Crosby runs a successful and award wining sheep farming enterprise in County Down. He is the UFU representative on the board of AHWNI.

Colin Smith

Colin is the Chief Executive of the LMC. He has been responsible for the strategic development of LMC’s Education Services, Farm Quality Assurance and Industry Development work areas.

Robert McCullough
Head of the Belfast Business Centre at Danske Bank, leading a team of professional, experienced Business Managers supporting local businesses and communities.

Programme Managers

Dr Sharon Verner is the programme manager for Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland with responsibility for the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) Eradication Programme.

Sharon holds a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Cambridge.  Previously she led on the technical side of animal health programmes in government veterinary service, including the Brucellosis eradication scheme and the BSE-driven Over Thirty Month Rule Change project that ultimately allowed meat from older cattle to enter the food chain.  She has also spent several years in the field, conducting disease investigations and management of infectious disease breakdowns, (including Foot and Mouth Disease, bTB and Brucellosis), carrying out on-farm clinical work and as a veterinary adviser for a veterinary pharmaceutical company.

Sharon is a member of the all-island Technical Working Group for BVD.

Dr Sam Strain is the Chief Executive for Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland. He has a particular interest in Johne’s Disease and has overseen the development of the AHWNI Control Programme for Johne’s Disease.

Sam is a veterinary surgeon and was awarded a PhD in immunogenetics from the University of Glasgow. He worked in mixed general practice for 10 years subsequently managing the Brucella, Salmonella and bovine TB bacteriology labs within the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. He has undertaken research into the early pathogenesis of bovine TB and Johne’s Disease, the evaluation of novel vaccine and diagnostic targets and the effect of co-infection on disease outcomes. His work currently focuses on the design, implementation and management of infectious disease control programmes.

                                                      Sam is a member of the all-island Technical Working Groups for Johne’s Disease and IBR as well as chair of the Northern                                                              Ireland Agri-Food Medicines Use Forum.

Associated Stakeholders

Contact us

Animal Health and Welfare NI (AHWNI) was formally launched in 2012. It is an industry-led, not-for-profit partnership between livestock producers, processors, animal health advisers and government.


Unit 49
Dungannon Enterprise Centre
2 Coalisland Rd
Co. Tyrone
BT71 6JT