Milk suppliers to one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains must now have their cows at grass for at least 100 days a year.
Waitrose says its new pledge sets a minimum standard for its British farmers, strengthening its commitment to animal welfare and ensuring a level of consistency across its dairy farms.
Waitrose conventional milk is produced from cows bred specifically for milk production, typically British Friesian and Holstein Friesian.
The milk is produced exclusively for Waitrose by a pool of 50 dairy farms in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon.
Waitrose says the dairy cattle graze on pastures through the summer and during winter they are housed in well-ventilated barns with clean, dry and comfortable bedding and fed on a forage-based diet of grass or maize silage.
Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of Agriculture and Meat, Fish and Dairy Buying said it always required our farmers to graze their dairy herds outside but this move puts in place a minimum benchmark of at least 100 days a year.
“We’re proud of our commitment and proud of our dairy farmers for the support they have given us with this move to a formal standard.
“Getting dairy cows outside and on grass pasture whenever possible not only produces great quality milk but is a key aspect of good animal welfare, something we believe is of the utmost importance.”
What do the farmers think?
Brian Barnett, Chair of the Waitrose Dairy Farmers Group, said that as farmers supplying milk to Waitrose they have always been required to graze their dairy cattle, so having pasture land and suitable buildings to make this possible is embedded in our on-farm planning.
“Now, with Waitrose, we have agreed a minimum standard to demonstrate our shared commitment to ensuring that our dairy cows are able to enjoy outside pasture for at least 100 days a year.
“The Waitrose milk producer group has been working closely with Waitrose for many years and over this time we have developed a producer scheme which reflects the Waitrose values and those of the Waitrose customer.
“Grazing cattle has always been important to us and we are pleased to be able to embed this requirement as a benchmark for our milk supply group.”