Valio slash soy use in bid for more eco-friendly milk

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Finish dairy company Valio is discontinuing the use of soy in feed for cattle and young cattle in a big for more “environmentally-friendly milk”.

These steps, which fall under Valio’s responsibility programme, are also aligned with customer demands.

A soy-free milk production chain is also an excellent competitive factor in international markets, Valio says, with an increasing number of customers expecting dairy companies to actively reduce the environmental impacts of their products.

Valio dairy farms will discontinue the use of soy in cattle and young 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. Valio’s goal is that also the feed for young cattle is soy-free by 28 February 2019.

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,” said 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. Compared to milk production in the rest of Europe, soy is of minor nutritional importance for Finnish cows.

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.

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.