First Milk has today announced the launch of a new initiative to proactively promote dairy farming and First Milk to its customers and the public – the First4Milk Pledge.

This new initiative, which builds on the First4Milk responsible sourcing programme it launched last year, sees the business asking its members to commit to improvements within three main areas – people, animals and the earth.

The key elements of the new First4Milk Pledge include farmer-members agreeing to:

  • Provide cows with access to pasture for a minimum of six hours per day for 120 days during the grazing season;
  • Guarantee that no healthy animal, including calves, will be euthanised on the farm;
  • Share antibiotic use data;
  • Enhance biodiversity and soil health on-farm; and
  • Help promote a positive image of dairy.

Commenting on the launch, Shelagh Hancock, chief executive, said: “Our First4Milk programme has already seen us make some ambitious commitments across our business, including committing to reductions in energy and water use, a 65% relative reduction in CO2e and the elimination of direct waste to landfill.

These are challenging objectives, yet to ensure we are well-placed to deliver on our vision of dairy prosperity we need to do more.

“We are proud of the leading standards on First Milk members’ farms and know members exceed many of the national targets and outcomes in these areas.

“But with livestock-based food production continuing to be under the spotlight, we need to demonstrate we are proactively addressing these areas of public concern in order to prosper long-term.”

First Milk members are being asked to sign up to the pledge by June 30, 2020.

Compliance with the pledge commitments will be monitored through annual Farm Business Reviews and farm assurance audits, as well as through online data collection via the First4Milk platform including the member app.

First4Milk Pledge

The First4Milk Pledge includes the following commitments:

Animal Welfare

  • Ensure cows have access to pasture for a minimum of 120 days a year for at least six hours a day during periods when the weather and ground conditions are suitable;
  • Implement animal health and welfare plans in conjunction with your vet;
  • Record, monitor and share total use of antibiotics with First Milk;
  • Guarantee no healthy animal, including calves, shall be euthanised on-farm.


  • Implement a soil and nutrient management plan to demonstrate responsible use of fertilisers and manures;
  • Maintain levels of soil organic matter to improve soil health and carbon storage;
  • Take measures on farm to enhance and promote biodiversity.


  • Ensure all individuals are appropriately trained to carry out their duties;
  • Help promote a positive image of dairy and support consumer and community engagement;
  • Ensure the farm working environment is safe.