Waitrose gives more freedom to dairy cattle

Waitrose has pledged to give its dairy herds more freedom to graze outside for longer, in an industry first.

From this week, the grocer‘s cows will spend at least 180 days a year grazing outside, an increase from 120 days, which Waitrose said will allow its cattle to exhibit natural behaviour leads to happier cows.

“Like us, cows are sentient beings that like to exercise freedom of choice,” Waitrose milk producer Andrew Booth said.

“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.”

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Waitrose senior agriculture manager Jake Pickering added: “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 six hours a day, something we know will give shoppers who care about welfare standards real confidence.”

“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.”

He concluded: “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.”

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