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Valio dairy farms to go soy-free

Valio’s board has decided that 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 producer’s supplementary feed for dairy cows. The company says its goal is that also the feed for young cattle is soy-free by 28 February 2019.

Discontinuing soy is one part of Valio’s extensive responsibility programme, it says, noting that, 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 was 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.

According to 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 said to be of minor nutritional importance for Finnish cows.

A soy-free milk production chain is an excellent added value factor for Valio in international milk markets, it believes, 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, Valio believes: the clear cutting and cultivation of rainforests and savannah areas cause greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change. (Source: 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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