9 February 1996

Supermarkets set dairy welfare pace

By Jessica Buss

SUPERMARKET led production codes launched recently are positive in principle but the level of detail, technical accuracy and expectations of some are questionable.

This is the view of John Sumner, ADAS head of dairying. "These codes contain all that has been learnt about animal welfare but a combination of all the targets may not be achievable on farm," he says.

He acknowledges the need to be able to open the doors more than in the past. But he would like to see the initiative come from the production side.

To help achieve this ADAS aims to produce its own codes of practice for milk production – including hygiene and welfare over the next two months.

Milk buyers wishing to adopt its scheme could have it adjusted to their needs. ADAS would provide the documentation, train dairy company employees and oversee implementation on farm.

The involvement of ADAS as a third party should assure supermarkets they are buying milk from contented cows, and also that the milk is produced without damage to the environment, says Mr Sumner.

"We want people to keep drinking milk and consuming more milk products," he says. "These codes, even through self-assessment by producers, will draw attention to buyers needs and put pressure on producers to meet the requirements."