In 2002, CONO Cheesemakers was the first dairy cooperative to award its farmers a premium for pasturing. The fact that no other dairy processor in the Netherlands offered this kind of premium shows what a leap forward this is in terms of the quality of animal welfare, sustainability and milk.
It's actually very simple. Everything a cow eats is returned to the milk and thus to the cheese. An average ration consists of 60% grass. The great thing is that fresh grass, of which we luckily have a lot in our country, is full of protein. Plus some sugar. And thus forms the best basis for good milk quality with an optimal fatty acid composition. The more food the cows take in naturally, the less concentrate has to be supplied from elsewhere.
All CONO dairy farmers feed their cows concentrate without genetically modified ingredients. We follow the German VLOG quality standard, which requires the entire chain to be GMO-free. From grass to cheese. So both the maize, wheat or sugar beets of their own country (which is already regulated in European legislation), as well as the soy and turnip in the concentrate that is supplied from elsewhere in the world. Moreover, it must be ensured that the cows do not come into contact with genetically modified products through the feed of other livestock on the farm. CONO milk is therefore 100% GMO-free milk. And the members receive a cent extra compensation for that.
Cows that graze in the pasture show more natural behavior, feel 'better about themselves' and are therefore healthier.
Cows grazing in the meadow exhibit more natural behavior , are ' comfortable in their own skin " and therefore healthier.
CONO Kaasmakers encourages its dairy farmers to put cows in the pasture with a pasture premium. This premium doubled in 2017 to € 2.00 per 100 kilograms of milk, if the cows are outside for a minimum of 120 days a year and a minimum of 6 hours a day. This is the pasture standard of Stichting Weidegang. Every year we check the pasture results of all our farmers. In addition, an external certiﬁcation company also carries out random checks at a quarter of our dairy companies. This way we know for sure that we not only tell a nice round story, but also an honest story.
Young stock is also actively pastured by CONO dairy farmers. By bringing them into the whey they literally get the hang of it. And that works out well when they become a full-fledged dairy cow after a few years. Until then, with their menu of lots of fresh grass, they strengthen their bones and muscles, and with that their resistance. So pure health. That is why more than 60% of CONO dairy farmers also let their young cattle graze in the maddow.