Animal welfare

Milcobel & animal welfare

Animal welfare is inextricably linked with the good practices at our dairy farms. There exists a strong bond between the animals and the dairy farmers. Indeed, a healthy and stress-free cow yields more and higher-quality milk and has a longer lifespan. Taking care of the excellent health of our cows is not merely a task, but a way of life that is embedded in the DNA of every dairy farmer. Things do not only revolve around the right feed, health and living conditions, but also about creating a stress-free environment where our cows are able to express their natural behaviour, in a comfortable environment.

Together with our dairy farmer members, we work towards sustainable agriculture, with animal health and animal welfare as priority objectives. The European Welfare Quality system offers a clear framework for measuring our efforts. It evaluates animal welfare based on four pillars: good health, good housing, good feed and normal behaviour.

Good health

  • We ensure excellent health for our cows, thanks to great care and living conditions. The health of our animals is monitored closely.
  • The majority of our dairy farmers are supported by their regular veterinarian.
  • Our cows are well taken care of. If a cow gets sick, this will be monitored closely and we will provide the best care. The use of antibiotics is limited as much as possible or excluded altogether.

Good housing

  • We give considerable attention to the housing of our cows. We consider it important for our cows to live in a pleasant, comfortable and hygienic environment. We strive for sufficient walking and grazing space and cow stalls with sufficient light, ventilation, freedom of movement and comfort.
  • Our farmers provide a high-quality and hygienic surface that guarantees a comfortable space for the cows. Stalls are equipped with straw, sawdust, sand, elastic cow bedding, or other bedding materials.

Good feed

  • Our dairy farmers provide ample pure drinking water.
  • The animal feed consists of a mix of roughage – mainly grass and corn -, supplemented by high-quality by-products and concentrates.

Normal behaviour

  • Cow brushes in the stables cater to a cow’s natural urge to brush its fur. This also stimulates good blood circulation and it relaxes the cow. The majority of our stalls with free cow traffic are fitted with cow brushes.
  • Pasturing promotes the natural behaviour of cows. During the grazing season, our cows go out to pasture as much as possible, depending on the size or the type of dairy farm. Sufficient shade is always provided, since cows don’t like the heat. Around 1,600 of our dairy farm members provide more than 6 hours of daily outdoor grazing time, which is generally recognised as the standard for pasturing. On this basis, we collect around 645 million litres of meadow milk annually. Our dairy farmers also ensure excellent living conditions in their stables.
  • The feeling of belonging to a herd is encouraged and stimulated from a young age. Growing up in an established, fixed herd helps to avoid stress at a later age and allows the cows to develop a natural pattern of behaviour.

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