First Milk Cows

The move is part of a push to promote a positive image of dairy farming, the dairy co-op said

Dairy co-op First Milk has unveiled a new initiative that will require its farmer members to commit to grazing cows outside for a minimum of 120 days a year.

The supplier’s First4Milk pledge is designed to “promote a positive image of dairy farming” among First Milk’s customers and the general public. Farmers will have to provide cows with access to pasture for a minimum of six hours per day for 120 days during the grazing season.

The commitment will also ensure farmers will need to guarantee that no healthy animal, including calves, will be euthanised on farm, share data on antibiotic use and enhance biodiversity and soil health on farm.

The new initiative builds on the dairy co-op’s First4Milk responsible sourcing programme launched last year, which saw the business ask its members to commit to improvements within three main areas: people, animals and the earth.

“Our First4Milk programme has already seen us make some ambitious commitments across our business, including committing to reductions in energy and water use, a 65% relative reduction in CO2e and the elimination of direct waste to landfill,” said First Milk CEO Shelagh Hancock.

“These are challenging objectives, yet to ensure we are well-placed to deliver on our vision of dairy prosperity we need to do more,” she added.

“We are proud of the leading standards on First Milk members’ farms and know members exceed many of the national targets and outcomes in these areas. But with livestock-based food production continuing to be under the spotlight, we need to demonstrate we are proactively addressing these areas of public concern in order to prosper long term.”

First Milk members are being asked to sign up to the commitment by 30 June. Compliance will be monitored through the supplier’s annual farm business reviews and farm assurance audits, as well as through online data collection via the First4Milk platform.