ANIMAL WELFARE

In Partnership With Our Farmers

ANIMAL WELFARE & LIFE ON FARM – IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR FARMERS

As the one of the UK’s leading dairy businesses, our 150 farmers look after over 40,000 animals; we partner with passionate dairy farmers that support us in our aims to uphold the highest quality and welfare standards on farm.

All our farmers adhere to the Red Tractor Assurance Dairy Scheme (RTADS). Over and above Red Tractor we also have our own comprehensive Lactalis UK Sourcing Standards.

SOURCING STANDARD 2023

Our recently-updated Sourcing Standard helps to drive additional standards on farm..

In 2019, we published our first ever Sourcing Standard, intended to clearly set out areas of focus and key initiatives with our partnering farms such as carbon auditing, decreasing antibiotic usage, mobility and body condition scoring and the ban on bull calf euthanasia.

In the latest 2023 edition, we further build on the standards with the aim of delivering high standards of animal welfare, reduced carbon emissions and sustainable farm businesses.

2023 SOURCING STANDARD HIGHLIGHTS

Animal welfare initiatives
Sustainable feed
Climate
People initiatives

ANIMAL WELFARE INITIATIVES

  • Producers will be asked to submit their Herd Health Plans to enable Lactalis to collate data on key welfare metrics.
  • Calf mortality figures will need to be collated to evidence that there is no euthanasia of healthy calves.
  • No prophylactic drug use from 1 January 2023.
  • Regular workshop sessions are delivered to producers to support animal welfare. Examples of these include sessions on selective dry cow therapy, mastitis management and mobility training Register of Mobility Scorers (RoMS) accredited mobility training days.

Sustainable feed

Soya/Palm products to be sourced from sustainable supply chains and usage collated for review.

 

Climate

Lactalis are committed to reducing greenhouse (GHG) emissions throughout the supply chain. Through the carbon auditing of our farms, we are able to identify the steps each farmer can take and work with them towards a low carbon future. Each farm is required to participate in the Lactalis carbon audit programme, and duly consider recommendations made to reduce their farm carbon footprint.

People initiatives

Partnering farms will be required to carry out Health and Safety audits and develop appropriate HSE plans if not already in place. All permanent staff must have a contract of employment if not already in place.

Our Sourcing Standard sets out our position on topics including:

MILK QUALITY & FOOD SAFETY

All of our milk is independently tested to ensure the highest milk quality and food safety.

ANTIBIOTIC USE & MONITORING

We are committed to the safe and responsible use of antibiotics to combat antimicrobial resistance. All farmers take part in annual benchmarking to review their use.

ANIMAL WELFARE & THE FIVE FREEDOMS

Animal welfare is monitored against the globally recognised gold standard in animal welfare, the Five Freedoms. We also have additional comfort & welfare checks in place including body condition and mobility scoring.

CALF & YOUNGSTOCK WELFARE

Calf and young stock welfare is an important part of the Lactalis animal welfare policy standards. All calves born on farm must receive the same care and attention ensuring their needs are fulfilled at all times.

CLIMATE

In our quest to reduce our scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions connected to milk & farming, we also have a dedicated section on climate covering carbon footprinting, sustainable milk supply, animal feeding and the farm environment.

THE LACTALIS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

Alongside the Sourcing Standard, we also strive to improve standards through our Lactalis Development Group which is available to all of our partnering farms.

Through workshops and farm visits and our Milk Supply team, we seek to share industry best practice and foster debate and discussion leading to better outcomes. We ask that our producers attend a minimum of two Lactalis meetings per year for this purpose.

ANIMAL WELFARE

Animal welfare is fundamental to the sustainability of our activities.

As all our partnering farmers know, there is a close link between animal welfare and milk production.

For example, a cow needs sufficient access to food and water, sufficient lying space, good hygiene and much more in order to produce high quality milk.

The foundation of animal welfare primarily revolves around the Five Freedoms.

This principle is globally recognised as the gold standard in animal welfare. The standards encompass animal mental and physical well-being, and are:

Freedom from pain, injury and disease

Freedom from fear and distress

Freedom to express normal and natural behaviour

Freedom from discomfort

Freedom from hunger and thirst

As a way of measuring animal welfare, we ask our farmers to collate information on a variety of welfare indicators.

Scoring welfare indicators regularly, such as body condition and mobility, allow for early action and improve overall welfare on farm.

We are at the forefront of sharing:

Comprehensive Herd Health Plans
Mobility scoring
Body condition scoring

COMPREHENSIVE HERD HEALTH PLANS

Which are to be drawn up in conjunction with the farm’s vet.

The plan must be reviewed annually taking consideration the herd’s health welfare and milking records.

Mobility scoring

Mobility scoring of both milking and dry (non-lactating) cows is to be undertaken at least quarterly with summary data made available in the Herd Health Plan. Scoring should be to the AHDB (Agriculture and Horticultural Development Board) scoring scheme and should be conducted by an accredited RoMS (Register of Mobility Scorers) accredited scorer.

 

Body condition scoring

Body condition scoring of the milking and dry cow herds is to be undertaken at least quarterly with summary data made available in the Herd Health Plan. Scoring must be to the Agriculture and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) scoring scheme. At least one scoring should be conducted by a suitably-trained independent person.

 

AUDITING OUR PARTNERING FARMS

Securing supply of high-quality milk, free of contaminants is fundamental to making our nutritious range of dairy products.

We want to be assured the milk is produced and handled in an appropriate manner from farm to factory.

Our supplying farms are regularly audited to ensure they share our commitment to the best care and treatment of their dairy cows.

Red Tractor

The Red Tractor farm assurance scheme is industry-recognised with standards covering food safety, animal welfare, traceability and environmental protection.

Farms are all rigorously assessed and independently certified in accordance with ISO 17065 at least every 18 months.

In-house milk supply team

Over period 2021 – 2023, all of our farms have been audited on a rolling 3 year cycle. In addition to a Red Tractor audit, our farmers also have regular visits from our dedicated in-house milk supply team. With our milk pool of 150 farmers, our farm management team are able to build strong relationships with our partnering farms; we have a very collaborative approach and aim to be active participants in our farming communities.

A Lactalis audit

Our Farm Supply Managers gather and discuss just short of 200 pieces of information from animal numbers, health, weight and milking patterns, to breeding practices, calf wellbeing, feed and feeding. The Herd Health plan is also reviewed and discussed and welfare outcome scores are noted.

MORE ON OUR JOURNEY