Animal well-being

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

A healthy cow produces high quality milk

A healthy cow produces high quality milk

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 2013 was feeding. Valio Farm Services in tandem with the dairy co-operatives arranged training events related to feeding cows and young cattle.

Dairy farm endorsement for high quality farms

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

At least 5% of the farms are audited annually. In 2013, audits were conducted on some 8% of the farms.

Around 27% 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.

A few dozen new endorsements are granted every year.

Good feed and a proper barn

A cow’s typical nutrition is based on grass or grass silage. And Finnish cows get the protein they need from rapeseed.

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 which emphasise feeding practices typical to cows. In 2012, Valio drew up ethical goals for milk production.

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

Valio arranges an annual barn seminar to promote new barn construction. In 2013, the seminar gathered together around 150 barn designers and experts. Similar barn planning seminars are arranged for milk producers around the country.

The number of cows living in free stall barns is rising continuously. In 2013, around half of Valio dairy cows lived in free stall barns and half in tie stall barns. Some 80% were given the opportunity to graze or for therapeutic grazing.

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.

The EU Commission’s goal is to standardise animal welfare evaluation. The Welfare Quality® program monitors animal behaviour. Valio actively follows the development work of a variety of welfare programs.