Happy Cows

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Animal welfare is an issue we take very seriously. It matters to our customers as well as our colleagues and, because healthy cows produce more milk, directly impacts the livelihoods of dairy farmers. That’s why it’s an area we continue to invest in.

Whether you prefer to buy our SO Organic milk, all of which meets the required standard for free range, or our by Sainsbury’s milk, you can be sure the cows that produced it have been well cared for.

A (very quick) look at how we support our farmers

We’ve been working with the same group of dairy farmers since 2007.  There’s close to 300 of them and together, they make up the Sainsbury’s Dairy Development Group (SDDG).

The group was set up to provide more support to farmers and through it, we made several commitments.  This included continuing to pay our dairy farmers a fair price for their milk and supporting them on matters relating to animal welfare, ensuring they can maintain the high standards our customers expect.   

For (a lot) more detail about our work with the SDDG click here.

Why all our famers want happy cows

One of the many benefits we’ve seen since the SDDG was set up, is healthier cows.  Healthy herds produce more milk and our farmers’ cows now produce, on average, an extra 1000 litres of milk each year.

The vast majority of our farmers’ cows graze whenever the weather permits.  In fact, around two thirds of our cows graze for more than six months of the year.  This means our customers buy over 250million litres of milk each year that meets the free range standard.

All of our SO Organic milk is produced by cows that graze during the grass growing months of the year, weather permitting.  And because this is for a minimum of six months, our organic milk exceeds the standard required for free range status. 

How our farmers make sure their cows are happy

Whether a cow grazes depends on a few factors.  It’s a delicate balance and one our dairy farmers want to get right because their cows are ‘in-calf’, meaning they need even more care to keep them in the best shape.  The location and layout of a farm, as well as the weather, type of production system, soil and breed of cow (some simply aren’t suited to grazing) all have a bearing.

While it’s not appropriate for all cows to graze, they still roam in the open air – just not on grass.  They live under a canopy structure with no walls, can go outside and are fed with the grass they’d otherwise graze on.  The small percentage of farmers who choose to ‘house’ their cows do so to ensure they’re comfortable and to reduce the likelihood of health problems such as hoof-rot and mastitis. 

Learn more about our milk production process.