European Dairy

Our Keep Cows on Grass campaign exposes the trend towards industrialised, indoor dairy farming, in which cows might never feel the sun or roam on grass. But it’s not too late. We can stop this. 

Whilst grazing isn't the only feature of good dairy cow welfare, we believe good pasture-based farms offer the best opportunities for happy, healthy cows, as well as environmental and economic benefits for people. Our campaign highlights four of Europe’s key milk producing countries:

Denmark, where the vast majority of pasture-based farms have been replaced with indoor systems… Sweden, where cows’ access to pasture is legally protected… The UK, which has lost over 40% of its dairy farms in the last seven years… And the Netherlands, where the campaign for higher welfare cheese is well established.

We already know you care. Our research showed that 66% of you would ‘avoid’ or ‘try hard to avoid’ milk that came from cows kept permanently indoors without access to natural grazing on pasture.*

Let’s turn caring into action.Let’s Keep Cows on Grass.

*YouGov research based on an opinion poll of over 10,362  adults in total from the U.K. (2120), Denmark (2011), Germany (2124), Netherlands (2008), and Sweden (2009).  Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th – 16th October 2012.  The surveys were carried out online.  The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) in each country.

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The Supporting Better Dairy coalition presents 293,511 signatures to the EU Commission.

The Supporting Better Dairy coalition presents 293,511 signatures to the EU Commission.


Supporting Better Dairy: we took you to Brussels
Your support has made a difference! Thanks to you, on October 23rd 2013 the Supporting Better Dairy coalition, with partners Ben & Jerry’s and Compassion in World Farming, handed in a total of 293,511 signatures to Andrea Gavinelli, Head of the Animal Welfare Unit, and Harry Vassallo, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Animal Welfare at the European Commission. We also handed in an open letter signed by MEPs, food businesses, academics and NGOs. Find out more here.

Dairy Roundtable Discussion at the European Parliament
On Tuesday 15th October 2013 a Dairy Roundtable Discussion was convened by the Supporting Better Dairy coalition at the European Parliament, in recognition of the increasing need for improved dairy cow welfare in Europe. Hosted by Sirpa Pietikainen MEP and Pavel Poc MEP in association with the European Parliament Food Policy Interest group, the coalition invited selected major food businesses, MEPs, member states, the Commission and animal welfare experts to exchange expertise, identify priority welfare concerns, and suggest ideas for raising standards.  The meeting progressed very positively and the participants look forward to further engagement and exchange at EU level.

Stop cows disappearing from our landscapes

Grazing is declining in Europe because of the trend towards larger, industrialised dairy farms.

However, a new report, 'Grazing in North West Europe - Economic Performance and Future Developments with Emphasis on the Dutch Situation' produced by LEI Wageningen University shows that contrary to present assumptions, grazing systems can result in higher net farm income than farms that have restricted or no grazing at all. This is due to low cost feed and minimal energy inputs, making them less susceptible to global price fluctuations.

The report calls on grazing to be maintained in Europe by investing in knowledge and innovation around grazing systems by farmers, governments and industry and proposes various ways forward to do this.

The full report can be found here.

The Supporting Better Dairy campaign

Dairy 3 logos
Ben & Jerry’s and Compassion in World Farming (Compassion) have joined us to improve the welfare of Europe’s 23 million dairy cows.

Levels of animal welfare for dairy cows vary greatly across the EU.  There are widespread health problems caused by inadequate care, poor housing, living conditions and diet. Common problems include lameness, mastitis, infertility and low life expectancy.

Supporting Better Dairy believes the starting point for improvements is specific EU legislation on dairy cow welfare to provide minimum standards on dairy cow welfare. This would raise the bar within the industry, and create a level playing field for farmers throughout the EU.

The Supporting Better Dairy campaign is demonstrating public support for dairy cow welfare by petitioning the European Commission. To add your name visit or take action at:

Could this be Europe’s most rarely sighted creature?

Hidden camera footage captures the beautiful sight and sounds of what could become one of Europe's most rarely-seen creatures. Evidence suggests that within ten years, dairy cows may have disappeared from much of the European landscape. We aren't going to turn a blind eye and let this happen – and we know you won’t either. 

Please watch our video and share. Footage by photographer Gideon Mendel


Where does my milk come from?

Download our pdf to find out more.

Where does my milk come from 1

Where does my milk come from 2

Watch our short animation