In summary, the WildCare Scheme:

  • Highlights the positive wildlife impact made on farms
  • Improves wildlife habitat provision 
  • Delivers a successful retailer - producer partnership
  • Underpins sustainable milk production

The WildCare partnership

Waitrose ab Sustain
Dairy Crest WD Farmers

How WildCare works

The WildCare initiative brings four business groups together, they are:

  • Waitrose – the retailer
  • Dairy Crest – milk processor (Graham’s Dairies in Scotland)
  • AB Sustain – independent consultants who deliver the scheme
  • The Waitrose Dairy Farm milk pool 

What is WildCare?

Developed for Waitrose Dairy Farmers, WildCare is a flexible and pragmatic scheme with the primary objective of improving wildlife habitats across the farms. The minimum requirement is to devote 10% of the farm holding to wildlife habitat, which is achieved through a range of sustainable practices, such as:

  • Managing and enhancing woodland
  • Leaving fields bare over winter (over-wintered cereal stubbles)
  • Planting flower-rich meadows
  • Establishing bird/pollen seed mixtures
  • Establishing ponds and managing existing ponds sustainably
  • Cutting hedgerows in rotation
  • Allowing awkward areas to regenerate naturally
  • Leaving conservation headlands

Waitrose dairy farms are visited twice a year by WildCare assessors. It is their role to monitor and record wildlife sightings and habitat provisions, whilst delivering advice that's tailored to the individual farm. Recommendations therefore take into account the farm geography and environmental features that are unique to every holding. As a result, increases in wildlife have been seen across every farm.

The scheme has also been responsible for cultivating an interest in wildlife amongst the Waitrose Dairy Farmers, and in furthering their commitment to habitat provision – here’s what they think about WildCare:

Testimonials

"The scheme has definitely cultivated an interest for me in wildlife, following my involvement in WildCare, I am far better able to identify bird species. The abundance of birds, butterflies, hares and pond life is great to see."

Ashton Hawker, Waitrose Dairy Farmer, Wiltshire

“Through our involvement with Waitrose WildCare, and subsequently our relationship with Waitrose and Dairy Crest, we have an appreciation of the changing needs of the consumer and retail markets.”

Ray Gasson, Waitrose Dairy Farmer, Oxfordshire

“The scheme enables flexibility with the opportunity to manage the farm land according to what suits the production systems.”

Jane Targett, Waitrose Dairy Farmer, Somerset