About AWA

About AWA

The American Sheep Industry Association is proud to have been one of the first U.S. livestock groups to develop animal care guidelines decades ago, including having the foresight to create and release the first version of the Sheep Care Guide in 1996. Building on this legacy and that of other key sheep production guidelines such as the Sheep Safety and Quality Assurance (SSQA) program, Sheep Production Handbook, and the ASI Sheep Handling Video, and with the assistance of Colorado State University, the American Wool Assurance (AWA) program focuses on year-round animal care related to sheep production with an emphasis on animal welfare connected to wool production. With 3 levels of certification, buyers can be assured that sheep in the AWA program are receiving a high standard of care.

The 5 Freedoms

Centered around the
international standard,
the 5 Freedoms:
Freedom from
hunger and thirst
Freedom from
Freedom from
pain, injury or disease
Freedom from
fear and distress
Freedom to express
express normal behavior

Wool Grower Q&A

Why should I do AWA?

Growers can gain access into new markets resulting in a reputation for good animal care, easier selling and, potentially, premiums and long-term contracts. These benefits can assist growers now and long into the future. Additionally, accountability programs preserve the reputation of wool, the growers, and the retailers, encourages better communication between growers, shearers, wool buyers and customers, better record keeping required by programs can increase profitability and increase dialogue between growers and consumers helps to educate and keep agriculture thriving.

Is this program mandatory?

No, this program is voluntary and open to any wool grower in the U.S.

Is this program for large producers or small producers?

Both. With various levels of certification, any wool grower can become involved, show their commitment to animal care, and benefit from the program. It is up to the grower if they would like to advance levels- we recommend discussing opportunities with your warehouseman or wool buyer.

What are the costs?

There are no fees to be a member of the program or to complete Level I. Growers are responsible for costs to complete evaluations and audits for Level II and III. Ranch Group Certification is also available to help decrease costs.

Which learning courses do I need to take?

To become accredited in AWA Level I – Educated, you must take the AWA and Sheep Safety & Quality Assurance (SSQA) courses. SSQA provides a good foundation for all sheep care, while AWA focuses specifically on wool sheep care.

How difficult are the standards to meet?

The standards are comprehensive and require proper wool sheep care. Most growers already provide a high-level of care and will meet many of the standards, so the program provides the opportunity to be transparent in your care practices and for continual improvement.

How do I know what AWA level I should become certified in?

Depending on your type, quality and quantity of wool, it will be more or less advantageous to move up to Levels II and III. To determine if it will be beneficial, please discuss the opportunities for market access with your warehouseman or wool buyer.

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