Waitrose leads the herd with 100 day grazing pledge
From spring 2016, dairy cows producing conventional* milk for Waitrose will spend at least 100 days a year outside grazing in fields, the supermarket retailer pledged today.
Waitrose is already one of the only supermarkets to give its dairy cows access to pasture during the grazing season in the summer months. This 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. 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: 'We've 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.'
Today's pledge builds on Waitrose's strong record in animal welfare which most recently saw it confirmed as a Tier One leader in the global Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare for the second year running. The supermarket also won Compassion in World Farming's Good Dairy Award in 2011 and the CiWF Retailer of the Year award for the sixth time in 2015.
Philip Lymbery, Compassion's Chief Executive, said: 'As the only major retailer who ensures that all their cows are allowed seasonal grazing, I have nothing but praise for Waitrose on their milk commitment.
'Waitrose remains one of the leaders in the proverbial herd, when it comes to their liquid milk. I think that most consumers presume that all dairy cows are allowed out on pasture. Sadly, this simply isn't the case. In terms of dairy cow welfare, Waitrose delivers what its customers expect and what the cows need to live a happier, healthier life.'
Brian Barnett, Chair of the Waitrose Dairy Farmers Group, added: 'As farmers supplying milk to Waitrose we 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.'
Notes to editors
*Conventional milk refers to non-organic milk. Organic cows cannot be permanently housed and must spend the majority of their lives outdoors.
There are five freedoms that form the core of Waitrose’s animal standards:
- Freedom to express normal behaviour - by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind
- Freedom from fear and distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering
- Freedom from hunger and thirst - by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
- Freedom from discomfort - by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease - by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
Waitrose - the Nation's Favourite Supermarket¹ and winner of the Best Supermarket² and Best Food and Grocery Retailer³ awards - currently has 346 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 62 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop - dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service. Waitrose also exports its products to 58 countries worldwide and has seven shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. Waitrose's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service Waitrose.com, as well as direct services websites including a specialist wine website (waitrosecellar.com)
¹ Which? Best Supermarket, 2015
² Good Housekeeping Best Supermarket 2015
³ Verdict Best Food and Grocery Retailer 2015
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Kerry Davies, Communications Manager, Corporate
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