Animal well-being

To maintain their well-being, even healthy milking cows need a suitable environment, the right kind of feed for a ruminant, and to be able to live in the way that’s typical to their species.

Animal well-being

A healthy cow produces high-quality milk

To maintain their well-being, even healthy milking cows need a suitable environment, the right kind of feed for a ruminant, and to be able to live in the way that’s typical to their species.

Finnish cows are the healthiest in the EU, and antibiotics are used only in the treatment of sick animals.

Valio Group has determined good practice for Valio milk production, which takes into account the requirements for cows’ well-being, in line with the Welfare Quality® program.

It is typical of the species for cows to rest or ruminate in a recumbent position for most of the day.

The number of cows living in free stall barns is rising continuously. In 2015, over half of Valio dairy cows lived in free stall barns and less than half in tie stall barns. Some 70% were given the opportunity to graze in the summer.

Valio arranged public events in different parts of Finland where cows were let out to graze. These events brought thousands of visitors to dairy farms.

The theme for 2015–2016 is well-being. Valio Farm Services in tandem with the dairy co-operatives’ production advisory services arranges training related to the well-being of people and animals.

The services provided by the dairy co-operatives’ production advisors are available to Valio dairy farmer entrepreneurs free of charge.

Dairy farm endorsement for high-quality farms

Valio dairy farms employ a Quality Manual that provides instructions on the different aspects of milk production. 97% of the farms have signed a quality agreement with a Valio procurement co-operative.

28% of Valio Group dairy farms have been granted the Valio dairy farm endorsement, which requires that the farm has complemented the Quality Manual with its own guidelines and meets the necessary requirements in terms of milk quality, animal feeding and care, the quality of the environment, and production follow-up.

High-quality feed and a high-quality barn

A cow’s typical nutrition is based on grass or grass silage, alongside which Finnish cows get the protein they need from turnip rape, rapeseed, and legumes such as peas. No soy is used as protein feed.

The use of GMO ingredients in feed for Valio Group cows is prohibited. Valio has drawn up for its milk producers “Hyvät ruokintaperiaatteet” (Good feeding principles) guidelines that emphasise feeding practices typical to cows.

Valio arranges annual seminars for designers and Valio dairy farmer entrepreneurs in order to promote new barn construction.

Milk collection drivers identify potential problems

The human element may come into play at a dairy farm, with the potential to compromise proper animal care or cause neglect.

Valio milk is collected fresh from the farms every other day. The milk lorry drivers have been trained to spot any potential problems and seek immediate help.

If, in regular testing, milk quality is seen to deteriorate, the dairy co-operative’s advisor will visit the farm.

At least 5% of the farms are audited annually. In 2015, audits were conducted on 6.2% of farms, supplemented by many farm advisory visits.