Free Range Dairy Producer Standards
These standards set out the farming practices which a member of the Free Range Dairy Network CIC must adhere to in order to become an accredited producer and use the Free Range Dairy Pasture Promise logo.
Farmers producing milk bearing the Pasture Promise logo have to be independently audited, keep farm records as set out in the Free Range Dairy Farm Records Schedule and provide additional information relating to the farming operation when required by Free Range Dairy Network CIC. Farmers are provided with more detailed standards and details of how they will be measured. In addition, independent auditors are provided with guidance notes to help them assess whether or not farmers are compliant with the standards.
All dairy cows must be grazed for a minimum of 180 days each year.
A total of 14 days ‘transition’ is permitted within the 180 day grazing period, to allow cows to adjust between housing and grazing at each end of grazing window. During this time, cows may be part grazed and part housed.
For the remainder of the 180 day grazing period all dairy cows must be grazed day and night and may only be kept indoors for up to one hour after each milking to allow time to eat additional forage and buffer feed.
No cattle on the farm shall be routinely housed during the grazing season unless it is necessary to safeguard health and welfare.
Farmers are required to produce a Summer Housing Policy, which is reviewed annually. This gives details of any animals that are routinely housed during the grazing season to safeguard their health and welfare. This may include young calves, sick cows, or animals in quarantine.
Farmers are not permitted to routinely house cows during the grazing season for the purpose of maintaining milk yields.
Sufficient grazing must be available to support all cows and replacement dairy stock on the farm, throughout the grazing season.
Farmers are required to submit an annual cropping plan that show the area of grass available each year for grazing cows and other livestock and conservation of winter forage. In addition, a breakdown of livestock numbers by age must be submitted, to allow the calculation of an overall farm stocking rate on the farm.
Producers choosing to out winter cows and herd replacements must demonstrate that their nutritional needs are met and health & welfare safeguarded.
Free Range Dairy does not require farmers to keep cows outside all year round. However, some farm drier land and may want to keep some animals outside all year round. If farmers choose to keep cows or replacement cattle outdoors in the winter months, a contingency must be submitted to FRD stating how health and welfare will be safeguarded during periods of extreme weather. Written details of the winter feeding regime must also be provided.
Cattle may be housed during the grazing season if extreme weather threatens to compromise health and welfare.
Farmers must draw up a contingency plan stating how the health and welfare of cows will be safeguarded during periods of extreme weather (to include extreme heat, cold or wet weather), during the grazing season.
Producers must notify Free Range Dairy immediately, at any time dairy cows or dairy replacement cattle are housed during the grazing season. A Grazing Exemption Form must also be competed and the record held on farm, stating the date on which cattle were housed, the number and type of cattle housed, number of days housed and reason for housing.
Farmers are not permitted to shoot calves at birth.
Farmers should declare if they are unable to sell calves due to TB restrictions and explain why they are not able to rear all male calves born on the farm.
Details of the calf rearing policy on the farm must be submitted to Free Range Dairy and records of births, deaths and livestock movements on and off the farm must be available for inspection.
A number of specific recommendations are currently being evaluated by Free Range Dairy and standards will be regularly revised and updated, following consultation with members and stakeholders.
Free Range Dairy want to ensure that recommendations and standards can be consistently applied and met on farms. This means that, wherever possible, farmers will be consulted and offered advice and training to help with the adoption of any new rules.
It is our intention to create a culture of responsibility amongst our farmer members and implement standards that will uphold and enrich both our values and the milk sold under the Pasture Promise label.