Dairy farmers supplying First Milk are being asked to commit to giving their cows access to outside grazing for at least six hours a day for 120 days a year as part of a new scheme.
The Glasgow-headquartered farmers’ co-operative is urging its producers to sign up to the First4Milk pledge, in a bid to promote dairy farming and First Milk to customers and the public.
As well as the minimum grazing requirement, farmers will need to guarantee that no healthy animal, including calves, will be euthanised on farm.
They will also be asked to share antibiotic data, and take steps to enhance biodiversity and soil health on their farms.
First Milk chief executive Shelagh Hancock said the scheme is a follow on from the co-op’s First4Milk initiative.
“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 Ms 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 said First Milk was proud of the leading standards on its members’ farms, but more needed to be done.
“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,” she added.
First Milk members are being asked to sign up to the pledge by June 30 2020.
Compliance with the pledge commitments will be monitored through annual farm business reviews and farm assurance audits, as well as through online data collection via the company’s member app.
A spokesman for the co-op said the scheme was not compulsory but those who do not take part will not receive the co-operator rebate from July 1.
This amounts to £12.50 per month.
The spokesman added: “There isn’t a premium associated with participation as such, and, most importantly, this is not about forcing members to sign nor about penalising them for not doing so.
“This is all about preparing our members for the future, protecting and promoting dairy and enabling us to sell members’ milk for the highest value possible.”