The Good Dairy Award, launched in 2011 and celebrates companies that use or are committing to use higher welfare dairy production systems for cows and calves in their supply chain.
To date more than 471 thousand dairy cows and calves are set to benefit each year from our award winners’ policies.
There are over 250 million cows used to produce milk in the world, including around 24 million in the EU-27, 9 million in the USA and around 1.85 million in the UK. Commercial milk production is increasing rapidly in southern Asia, including in countries that have not traditionally consumed milk, such as China. Developed countries typically use cows from specialised milking breeds. The Holstein is the dominant breed in the USA, UK and much of Europe.
There is a wide variety of dairy production systems in the EU, ranging from permanently housed systems to extensive outdoor systems with rudimentary shelter. Cow accommodation is typically in cubicle systems or straw yards, although tethering is still permitted and common in some countries.
There is no specific EU Directive setting out minimum conditions for the protection of dairy cows. UK assurance schemes (e.g. RSPCA Freedom FoodTM and Soil Association through their Assurewel project, and adapted by Red Tractor) are developing systems that monitor and set targets for the improvement in key outcome measures such as the incidence of lameness, mastitis and poor body condition.
Minimum conditions for the protection of dairy calves are set out in Council Directive 2008/119/EC. Calves must not be reared in individual pens after eight weeks of age, individual pens must not have solid walls so that the calves have tactile contact with others, and calves must have sufficient space for exercise, be fed colostrum within 6 hours of birth, be fed twice a day, and provided with sufficient iron and fibre in their diet.
Good Dairy Award
The awards programme works by recognising and rewarding producers, manufacturers, food service companies, retailers and public bodies for working in a sustainable and responsible way.
Compassion awards companies that provide their dairy cows with access to pasture in the grass growing season and for improving key welfare issues such as lameness, mastitis and cow condition. To win a Good Dairy Award, companies should also rear all their calves in high welfare systems where they are raised in social groups with adequate bedding and fed an appropriate fibre diet.