Greener milk production: Valio discontinues use of soy in feed

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09 Mar 2018 --- Finnish dairy company Valio says it is taking a step towards environmentally friendly milk production by entirely discontinuing the use of soy in feed for cattle and young cattle. A soy-free milk production chain is also an excellent competitive factor in international markets: an increasing number of customers expect dairy companies to reduce the environmental impacts of dairy products actively.

Valio’s Board has decided that effective March 1, 2018, Valio dairy farms will discontinue the use of soy in cattle feed. So far, small amounts of soy have been used for feeding young cattle. Soy has already been replaced with other protein sources in the biggest Finnish feed producers’ supplementary feed for dairy cows.
 
Going soy-free is part of the extensive responsibility program
Discontinuing soy is one part of Valio’s extensive responsibility program. For Valio, responsibility translates to practical actions, and removing soy from the feed chain is one concrete action for a better life. In practice, soy will be discontinued on dairy farms as of March. Having a one-year transition period ensures that dairy farm entrepreneurs can use up any of the soy-containing feed that they already have in stock or that has already been ordered.

“Soy is the most important protein feed for animals globally. At the same time, it is also the most important source of plant protein for people. Part of Valio’s responsibility approach includes that we don’t feed animals food that is suitable for human consumption,” says Juha Nousiainen, Director of Farm Services at Valio.

The fundamentals related to cattle nutrition also support discontinuing the use of soy in feed. Studies indicate that in grass silage-based feeding, rapeseed is a better supplementary protein feed for dairy cattle than soy (Source: Vanhatalo, etc. 2004, Shingfield, etc. 2003). Compared to milk production in the rest of Europe, soy is of minor nutritional importance for Finnish cows.

A soy-free milk chain is a competitive advantage internationally
A soy-free milk production chain is an excellent added value factor for Valio in international milk markets, where customers are also compelling dairy companies to reduce the environmental impacts of dairy products. The environmental impacts of South American soy production are unsustainable.

The clear-cutting and cultivation of rainforests and savannah areas cause greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change, according to the WWF.

The soy-free feed chain requirement applies to the dairy stock calves, heifers and dairy cattle of the Valio Group’s dairy farms. Likewise, animals that are part of the Valio Group milk production chain but raised outside the dairy farms e.g. on heifer farms, must be fed soy-free feed.

The soy-free requirement doesn’t apply to other production animals at Valio dairy farms, animals like suckler cows, beef cattle or feeder calves. Prior soy-feeding doesn’t prevent the buying or selling of the animals as long as feed containing soy is no longer given to animals in the milk production chain on Valio Group dairy farms. The use of soy is allowed in the cattle feeding experiments of research institutes.

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