An annual poll of FrieslandCampina member dairy farmers has revealed that 74.0 per cent of the members plan to let their cows graze outdoors this year. Some 8.0 per cent of the members are opting for partial outdoor grazing. This brings the total number of members planning to participate in outdoor grazing to 82.0 per cent. FrieslandCampina’s aim is to keep outdoor grazing at the current level.
In the Netherlands, the number of members planning to allow their herds to graze outdoors has risen by 1.4 per cent to 73.4 per cent (2011: 72.0 per cent). Of the Dutch members, 7.9 per cent are opting for partial outdoor grazing. Some 81.8 per cent (2011: 74.0 per cent) of the German members are opting for outdoor grazing and 8.4 per cent for partial outdoor grazing. In Belgium, the percentages are 50.0 per cent (2011: 58.0 per cent) and 26.7 per cent respectively. For the Netherlands, the situation has remained stable and it appears that many members had already expressed their preference last year. Partial outdoor grazing was not measured last year.
Only by choice
Piet Boer, chairman of Zuivelcoöperatie FrieslandCampina U.A.: ‘The member dairy farmers are self-employed and have a wide variety of operating conditions. This means that it’s important that they can make their own choices tailored to their specific business development. This was the foundation for developing the sustainability programme and also the choice of whether or not to opt for a form of outdoor grazing.
Of all FrieslandCampina members, 14.4 per cent are opting to keep cows indoors for various reasons. In the Netherlands, the figure is 15.0 per cent, Germany 7.3 per cent and Belgium 23.3 per cent.
Outdoor grazing premium
FrieslandCampina encourages outdoor grazing by offering an outdoor grazing premium. The premium is EUR 0.50 per 100 kg milk. To receive the premium, a dairy farmer must allow his or her dairy cows to graze outdoors for at least 120 days a year for at least six hours a day. A scheme has also been devised for partial outdoor grazing. This applies to dairy farmers who do not meet the standards for outdoor grazing milk, but who allow a quarter of their herd to graze outdoors for at least 120 days. FrieslandCampina took this initiative because many Dutch people like to see cows grazing in the Dutch landscape.
FrieslandCampina won’t take stock of the situation until the end of the year. Quality control (Qlip) and FrieslandCampina field staff check whether a dairy farmer has actually met the conditions set.