Waitrose dairy farmers have exceeded their own target for outdoor grazing, achieving an average of 167 days last season. As a result, Waitrose has increased the number of days it guarantees all its dairy cows spend outside, from 100 to 120 days.
As the first supermarket to make a guarantee of this kind, the pledge highlights Waitrose commitment to animal welfare and ensures a consistent approach for all of its dairy farmers. The realistic target factors in the occasionally challenging weather conditions across the UK, as cows don’t like being outside in bad weather.
The milder temperatures this month will provide the perfect conditions for outdoor grazing to start on Waitrose farms.The grazing season lasts from early spring to the end of autumn, when the conditions are best and the pasture is at its most lush and nutritious.
During the winter, the cows live in well-ventilated barns with clean, dry and comfortable bedding and are fed on a forage-based diet of grass or maize silage.
To tie in with the start of the grazing season, Waitrose will air its dairy advert on TV from this week. The advert was filmed on a dairy farm near Newbury that supplies milk to Waitrose and gives customers the opportunity to see the benefits of grazing and the environment for themselves. The campaign is in response to the demand Waitrose is seeing for quality food and shoppers wanting to be reassured about its provenance.
Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of Agriculture and Meat, Fish and Dairy Buying said: “We’re proud of our dairy farmers for exceeding the targets that we set out in our original grazing pledge and it’s fantastic that we’re now able to extend it to 120 days. Grazing ensures our dairy cows are producing great quality milk and contributes to our high animal welfare standards, which has always been fundamental to our business.”
Brian Barnett, Chair of the Waitrose Dairy Farmers Group, added: “Waitrose dairy farmers have always allowed our cows to graze outdoors but this is the first year that we’ve recorded the precise number of days that they spend outside – and it is fantastic that we averaged 167 days. We have worked closely with Waitrose for many years and this joint commitment to ensure the welfare of our animals is industry leading.”
Waitrose has an exclusive pool of 60 dairy farms across the UK in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon. Milk is produced from cows bred specifically for milk production, including British Friesian and Holstein Friesian. The supermarket always pays its farmers a fair and leading price for their milk.
Compassion in World Farming (CiWF) has endorsed animal welfare standards at Waitrose with the Good Dairy Award and CiWF Retailer of the Year Award. In addition, Waitrose has maintained its top tier status for the third year running in the annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report, which assesses standards in the world’s leading food companies.