Eyes on Animals team visited Zonnehoeve dairy farm today together with Marqt, the Dutch “fair” supermarket chain. We brought Marqt and the Zonnehoeve dairy farmer together to see about the possibilities of selling the Zonnehoeve milk in their stores with an appropriate label indicating what makes it so special: the calves remain with their mothers for at least 3-4 months instead of being separated right after birth (as on most other dairy farms). The Zonnehoeve also takes good care of other welfare aspects important to the cattle, such as access to pasture, deep soft bedding, fresh air, and close supervision of their behaviour and health. Even the male calves get to stay with their moms and then spend 3 years on a nature reserve. The Zonnehoeve farm was always delivering its milk to Campina Demeter, but as of July will become independent, as they just bought their own milk “factory”. This means they can sell their milk with their own label to whom they want and their milk will no longer get mixed with the milk of other farmers that do not have the same standards.
Marqt is enthusiastic but some things have to be discussed before any fixed deal is made. Will consumers be willing to pay the fair price? Can enough litres be delivered to stock at least one store?
We will continue to encourage that this more-ethical dairy option becomes more widespread so customers have the choice and farmers too, to keep the calves and the cows together in a well -managed farm and receive a fair price for the extra effort. As long as people want dairy products, we feel that this is the most ethical way the dairy industry should head.