Meet the farmer...
Down on David Homer’s farm in Wiltshire, the cows are busy doing what cows like to do: grazing on lush, green grass, lying down to chew the cud and, from time to time, lifting their tails to help out with a supply of fertiliser. David is a founder member of a group of carefully chosen dairy farmers who have been supplying our milk for almost 20 years. They all work to a detailed set of animal welfare standards, which have resulted in Waitrose & Partners holding Compassion in World Farming’s Good Dairy Award every year since 2011.
All cows that supply our fresh milk and cream graze in fields for a minimum of 120 days a year. During 2019, conventional dairy farmers grazed their herds for an average of 173 days, while organic farms averaged 208 days. This time outdoors allows the cows as natural a life as possible, with the freedom to move, graze and form social bonds. During winter, they’re brought inside to roomy sheds with comfortable bedding and plenty of space to move around.
‘We keep an eye on the weather, but the cows are usually outside by March,’ says David. ‘Then they’ll graze through to autumn and we won’t bring them indoors until it gets cold and wet, around the first week of November. We’re careful about what we feed them and our health and welfare standards are monitored. The essential Waitrose milk looks the same as you’d get in any other supermarket – but the way it’s produced, the way the farmers work and follow the best practice protocols makes it different. The care we take to make Waitrose & Partners milk makes it unique.’
Working with our farmers
We believe it is important our farmers receive a fair price that gives them a sustainable return. We negotiate directly with farmers under a pioneering producer group system, taking cost of production into account when agreeing a fair price.
We pay this fair price because it gives farmers the reassurance and confidence to invest in their business.
All cows producing milk for Waitrose & Partners spend at least 120 days each year grazing in fields. This new pledge sets a minimum standard and ensures consistency across our dairy farms. We are the only retailer to guarantee this.
essential Waitrose milk
All essential Waitrose milk is produced by a group of dedicated farmers, who supply their milk exclusively for us and understand and share our values. We work closely with our farmers to deliver the highest standards of milk quality and can trace every pint back to the farm that produced it.
Our animal welfare commitments
Waitrose farmers are committed to the animal welfare principles known as the Five Freedoms. These form the core of our animal welfare standards - freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort and pain, injury and disease, freedom to express normal behaviour, and freedom from fear and distress.
Our dairy cows have access to grazing fresh grass in the fine weather and are sheltered in comfortable airy barns with plenty of room to lie and turn in comfort when the weather turns. The cows like to mill in groups and lie on fresh bedding - with lots of readily available food and water.
Our dairy farmers produce a comprehensive herd health plan in conjunction with their farm vet. This is continually monitored to ensure that the dairy cows are kept healthy and happy.
Read more about the Waitrose & Partners commitment to animal welfare here