There are currently no laws in place in the UK to uphold the right for cows to enjoy the freedom to graze in fields. That’s why farmers producing free range milk under the Pasture Promise logo are required to adhere to strict standards that ensure dairy cows are given the freedom they deserve.

One of our key standards is that farmers must graze their cows for a minimum of 180 days (and nights) a year, or 6 months, before they can use the Pasture Promise logo on their milk. We have set a minimum number of days that is higher than anyone else, because we only permit those farmers truly committed to keeping their cows in fields, to join the scheme.

Our farmers are subject to an independent audit, by a recognised certification body, to ensure that they comply with the standards.

Key standards

Recognised farm assurance

All Free Range Dairy farmers must be members of a recognised farm assurance scheme for milk production, such as Red Tractor and be in possession of a valid certificate of compliance. You can find out more about Red Tractor dairy standards via this link

180 days at grass

All cows and calves over 12 months of age must be grazed for a minimum of 180 days a year. Animals must be grazed at night time as well, but farmers are permitted a short ‘Transition Period’ when cows may be part grazed and part housed. This is to allow cows to adjust between winter and summer diets in spring and vice versa in autumn.

In practice, this often means that cows may just go out to grass by day for the first few days of the grazing season, to adjust to the fresh green grass, whilst still being housed at night. Then at the end of the grazing season, when it gets colder, cows may be brought indoors at night whilst staying out to graze in the daytime.

18 hours a day

When cows are out grazing night and day, farmers are only allowed to bring them back into yards of buildings for milking. All of our farmers milk their cows twice a day and the cows are typically only away from pasture for two to three hours for milking, at each end of the day. This means that they are out grazing for around 18 hours a day. There may be some exceptions to this on occasions, if cows are held back after milking for routine vet visits or to have their feet trimmed. The rest of the time they’re free to graze, socialise and rest with their friends or rest of the herd.

Dealing with bad weather

We will never make our farmers keep their animals outside if extreme weather threatens their health and welfare. If there is a period of very wet weather, or prolonged high temperatures (in excess of 25 degrees C) farmers may apply for a derogation to temporarily house cows during the grazing season. Farmers must notify us the moment they make the decision to bring animals indoors and when they turn them out again. We ask farmers to provide evidence of their justification for housing and this is often provided in the form of photos taken on a mobile phone.

Animals that stay indoors

As explained above, all animals over the age of 12 months must be grazed night and day. However, there may be some circumstances when individual animals, or small groups are housed during the grazing season, to safeguard their health and welfare. Examples of these are any sick animals, or young cows (heifers) that are close to calving and need to be closely monitored. Farmers are NOT permitted to keep cows inside to facilitate high milk yields.

Care and comfort at grass

When cows have to walk between pasture and the milking parlour twice a day, it is important they can do so with the minimum risk of lameness. So we ask farmers to provide an annual ‘Pasture Access Assessment’, which is a kind of risk assessment, highlighting any areas on tracks or in gateways that may potentially cause harm. If any such risk is identified, farmers must then set out what they propose to do to minimise that risk. Cows must also have access to water of suitable quality for drinking whilst at grass, within 400 metres of the area they are grazing.

Looking after the calves

Free Range Dairy farmers are strictly prohibited from shooting calves at birth, unless it is absolutely necessary to alleviate pain and suffering.

Calves must be left to suckle their mothers for a minimum of 48 hours from birth, unless advised to remove them sooner on veterinary advice. In practice there is a considerable range in the age at which calves are weaned from cows, ranging from 48 hours to as long as 3 months.

If you have any questions about Pasture Promise free range standards, please email us at :


Why choose Pasture Promise free range milk?

Pasture Promise free range milk gives traditional family dairy farms a badly needed identity in the marketplace and gives you the chance to make a more informed choice about the kind of farms your milk comes from. By making the Pasture Promise you can help us to win a fair deal for farmers and cows.

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    Free Range

    The Pasture Promise logo means a minimum of 6 months at grass.

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    Great Taste

    Wonderful, fresh milk that tastes like ‘proper’ milk should.

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    High Standards

    The milk is produced to our strict free range standards and is collected, processed and bottled separately.

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    Supporting British Farmers

    Delivering family farms a fair reward for keeping cows in fields.

Joins Us

You can join us as a farmer member or a supporter.
We invite both those who produce milk and buy milk to work together so we can secure the freedom for cows to graze in fields and make milk great again.