Cow About That
- From this week, all cows that supply our own label milk will spend more than half of the year grazing in grassy fields
- In an industry first move, farmers will leave their gates open throughout spring and summer
- Evidence suggests that ready access to the outside during the warmer months is essential to a dairy cow’s positive emotional wellbeing
Waitrose has today pushed the boundaries of animal welfare with another industry first - designed to allow its dairy cows to exhibit natural behaviour.
From this week, all cows that supply the supermarket’s own label milk will spend more than half of the year grazing in grassy fields - increasing on the previous ground-breaking commitment of 120 days by a third.
For the first time, farmers will also leave their gates open throughout the spring and summer* to give cows the freedom to do as they please.
Free to roam, rain or shine
Director of the Waitrose Dairy Group and Waitrose milk producer, Andrew Booth, said: “Like us, cows are sentient beings that like to exercise freedom of choice. To decide whether to be inside or outside, to lie in the sun or to take shelter from the rain. Giving them that choice and enabling them to demonstrate and articulate their natural behaviours whenever and wherever possible is fundamental to ensuring they live happy and enriching lives.”
Welfare standards you can trust
Jake Pickering, Senior Agriculture Manager at Waitrose, said: “Our grazing pledge was already industry-leading but we’re always challenging ourselves to improve and it’s a testament to our high standards that we’ve managed to even outdo ourselves. The move to a free range certification for our dairy cows will help ensure whenever possible that our cows go outside and for a minimum of 6 hours a day, something we know will give shoppers who care about welfare standards real confidence.”
Sadly, a fifth of UK dairy herds continue to be kept in housed systems all year round. However, work being led by Waitrose dairy farmers and leading British scientists** has provided evidence to suggest that ready access to the outside during the warmer months is essential to a dairy cow’s positive emotional wellbeing.
Emotional wellbeing key to welfare
Pickering added: “We strongly believe that our dairy cows should spend the maximum amount of time possible grazing in fields because it's natural, healthy and - as our work with leading animal behavioural scientists at the SRUC is helping to validate - it's a key factor in ensuring they live a happy life. "Including the emotional wellbeing of farm animals and environmental stewardship as key aspects of our welfare assessments represents a true step-change for the industry that goes above all prior assessment criteria, one that we hope will drive positive change across the UK agriculture sector."
Watch HERE see just how happy cows are when they go into pasture at spring***.
For more information on our animal welfare standards, including dairy, please visit: https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/content/about-us/our-farming
For more information, please contact [email protected]
About the John Lewis Partnership
The John Lewis Partnership owns and operates two of Britain's best-loved retail brands - John Lewis and Waitrose. Started as a radical experiment over a century ago, the Partnership is now the largest employee-owned business in the UK, with over 80,000 employees who are all Partners in the business. The Partnership is purpose-driven, existing to create a fairer and more sustainable future for our Partners, customers, suppliers and communities. Our Purpose not only inspires our principles, drives our decisions and acts as our guide to be a force for good, it steers us to do things differently and better - all in service of creating a happier world for everyone and everything we touch.
Waitrose & Partners has 331 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 59 convenience branches, 27 shops at Welcome Break locations, and Waitrose.com - its fast-growing online shopping business, consistently rated highly by independent research. The retailer 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. As part of an employee-owned business, all Partners have a say in how the business is run.