Cow health is the foundation of responsible milk production. It affects the quality and safety of milk and, consequently, of food. DMK takes a comprehensive approach to animal welfare, animal health, environmental and climate protection, economics and social affairs.
Farming systems that promote animal welfare are a key concern for us and our milk producers – because only healthy and content cows produce good quality milk and high yields. Our Milkmaster Programme defines aspects of responsible milk production and provides recommendations on a wide range of animal husbandry issues, such as freedom of movement, requirements for lying areas, calving and health areas as well as rest areas, social contact and protection from the elements.
Around 96% of the volume of milk that is processed by DMK comes from farms on which loose housing is the norm. The animals can then move around freely and therefore live healthier lives. In addition, feeding, which has a considerable impact on the climate footprint of dairy farming, can be better regulated with indoor systems.
Pasture grazing has positive effects on the cows. The DMK Group believes that combining this with barn systems, where the animals are milked several times a day, is ideal. They can also stay there during the winter months when basic feeding on the pasture is not available. Furthermore, feeding, which has a significant impact on milk production’s climate footprint, can be better regulated in barns. Efficient feeding in barns can reduce methane emissions.
In the Milkmaster programme, the DMK Group recommends a combination of enclosure systems and pasture grazing for dairy cows and cattle on at least 120 days of the year, if the framework conditions on the farm permit this. Not every farm has sufficient pasture in the immediate vicinity of the farm, so comprehensive grazing is not viable in Germany. A large proportion of DMK milk producers, currently around 60%, allow their animals to graze temporarily. Pasture grazing is therefore very important for DMK farms, but varies greatly from region to region. Pasture grazing is a bonus criterion in the Milkmaster system.