One of the world's largest dairy co-operatives celebrated its 150th birthday this month.
European dairy co-op FrieslandCampina reports that the number of its member dairy farmers putting their cows out onto paddocks has increased for the second year in a row.
Last year, 79.4% of FrieslandCampina farms took up some form of outdoor grazing, 1.2% more than in the previous year.
Thanks to active acquisition and guidance, 314 dairy farms decided to start outdoor grazing this year, the co-op says.
Chairman Frans Keurntjes says the rise in the number of farms using outdoor grazing is a positive development.
“The sight of the cows contributes to social acceptance and the image of dairy farming. We are happy with these increases and thank all outdoor grazers.”
By promoting outdoor grazing FrieslandCampina hopes that in 2020 it will have the same percentage of farms (81%) using outdoor grazing as in 2012.
Some dairy farmers are given tailored advice and the co-op organises outdoor grazing clinics.
FrieslandCampina also rewards its farmers who graze their cows in paddocks for at least 120 days per year for a minimum of six hours per day. These farmers get an outdoor grazing premium of 1.50 euro ($2.52) per 100kg milk.
Part-outdoor grazing brings a reward of 0.46 euros (77c) per 100kg milk. To get this, farmers must outdoor-graze 25% of their cattle for at least 120 days a year.
Outdoor grazing is a traditional aspect of the Dutch landscape and is highly appreciated by the people, the co-op says.
“FrieslandCampina encourages member dairy farmers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to put their cows and young cattle out into the paddocks.”