Why Supermarkets Have a Duty to Provide Better Labelling for Milk

09/05/2016 11:13 | Updated 09 May 2016

Up to a fifth of dairy cows in the UK are kept indoors in factory farms all year round, never feeling the grass beneath their feet or the sun on their backs. In Denmark 85 per cent of farms were grazing cows on grass in 2001, but by 2010 this had reduced to just 35 per cent . In the US the majority of dairy farms are industrial-scale indoor systems which can house tens of thousands of cows.

(c) Getty Images

To stop something similar happening in the UK, World Animal Protection's Full Fact Milk campaign is calling on all the major British supermarket chains to introduce better labelling for milk, so that shoppers can make an informed choice about the products they buy and how the animals have been treated.

If cows are kept in intensive indoor dairy farms, it means that:

  • Cows that are kept indoors all year round face an increased risk of lameness and painful udder infections like mastitis
  • Overcrowding and constant regrouping in intensive systems can cause anxiety and aggression in cows
  • Cows in intensive systems are pushed to their physical limits to produce such high quantities of milk

We know shoppers want to be able to make informed choices about animal welfare when it comes to their food and drink. In our recent poll 87% of UK adults agreed that they wanted to buy free-range milk from pasture-grazed cows (i.e. allowed to graze outdoors in fields) and for farmers to receive a good price for their milk.

(c) World Animal Protection

Although some farmers in the UK graze their herd on grass, at the moment there is no way of knowing if the milk you are buying is free range or not, and there are no figures available on how many intensive indoor dairy farms there are, or could be in the future.

So whilst shoppers are able to make a choice to buy better welfare eggs for their breakfast, they can't when it comes to milk on their cereal.

Supermarkets can make this choice available. Anyone who wants to be able to choose free range milk can support World Animal Protection and write to supermarkets asking them to introduce clearer milk labelling. Together we can help to keep cows on grass where they belong.

(c) World Animal Protection