fbpx

Prologue:

Ghee is the most nutritious and purest form of milk fat which can stay shelf-stable up to 12 – 18 months under proper storage conditions. Extremely low free fatty acid (FFA) content offers a high smoke point and makes it ideal for deep frying, baking and sautéing. Being based in New Zealand, where grass-fed dairying is tradition and getting practiced since 150 years, Milkio produces ghee with best quality grass-fed cow milk cream procured from NZ only. The method of ghee making is traditional under proper preserving condition, thus the ghee retains all the nutritional benefits, freshness and terroir of New Zealand’s grass-fed milk.

The nutritional summary of cow ghee: Milkio Ghee serves 112 calories per tablespoon of ghee

  • Scientific researches’ show that a serving of ghee contains 12.7 grams of fat, fat soluble vitamins (A,D, E and K) in a significant amount, negligible amounts of protein, no carbohydrates, fibre or sugars
  • Calcium: 1 milligram per tablespoon
  • Vitamin A: 108 micrograms
  • Fats: 8 grams of saturated fat, 4 grams of MUFA and 0.5 grams of PUFA
  • Cholesterol: Ghee is proven to increase HDL cholesterol which is ideal to have a healthy heart.

Defining grass-fed through a uniform definition is a little tricky as various countries have their own standards and point of views. As the term indicates, “grass-fed” dairy products are those who derived from cattle raised on predominantly pasture grazed method. When ruminants exclusively forage on pastures, fresh herbage is their only feed.

Therefore, the derived products can be clearly identified as grass-fed or, more appropriately, “pasture-fed” or “pasture raised” products. Several current studies on grass feeding affirmed elevated nutritional and sensorial properties of milk and milk products coming from grass-fed cows. These are further supported by scientific data where the health benefit parameters are very conspicuous.

The emerging concept of grass-fed gained a tremendous population among the customers who believe these products are healthier, natural, premium and ideal as per animal welfare views.

Various certification agencies are providing grass-fed certification through verifying dairying practice of the farm and the presence of biomarkers of grass-fed in the final products. Meeting those requirements are now primary objectives for world’s leading dairy brands as the grass-fed products belong to premium priced category.

New Zealand (NZ) is quite blessed in this regard. Pasture based dairy systems are a tradition in New Zealand. Apparently there are a few reasons that provide an impetus for being essentially grass-fed dairy practitioner to the farmers and fetch premium price for their produce.

The temperate climate and plentiful grassland of NZ enables cows to graze on pasture naturally for most of the year. Inexpensive, nutritional and sustainable grass-based feed structure and seasonal dairying is the most viable choice to increase profitability and maintain a farming lifestyle for generations.

Extensive research and development along with long-established practice of grass feeding dairying has given an impeccable dairy expertise to the country’s dairy farmers and farms. An exceptional forage management and utilizing the benefits of grass-based dairying such as ecological approach to health care, maintaining soil fertility by supplying natural fertilizers through manure and urine directly while cattle grazing etc. helped New Zealand to develop a low-input high-output farming system that reduces production costs and increases profitability.

Moreover, the grass-fed milk and milk products are premium and result in a sustainable return to the farmers.

Milkio is following the same year old tradition of New Zealand by making dairy products from grass-fed raw materials. Milkio is honest and willing to declare the presence of grass-fed biomarkers in the Ghee through various analytical tests results and discussions.

The grass-fed certifications will further smoothen Milkio’s journey as `Grass-fed”.

TOP

The concept of “Grass-fed”

Grass-fed dairy farming consists of outdoor grazing on highly managed grasslands ruminants are allowed to consume large quantities of plant material as a source of energy and nutrients and to convert fibrous materials into valuable food products such as milk and meat. Pasture feeding has been demonstrated to have a positive impact on the nutrient profile of milk.

It increases the content of some beneficial nutrients such as Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, Vaccenic acid, and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), while reducing the levels of Omega-6 fatty acids and Palmitic acid. Too much consumption of Omega-6 increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Research has shown that consuming grass-fed dairy products lowers dietary intake of omega-6, while increasing intake of omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a heart-healthy fatty acid.

Consumers usually consider grass-fed farming as healthy, animal friendly and an environmentally sustainable method of milk production. More over the enriched nutritional profile of “Grass-fed” milk sounds “healthy” and “natural” dairy products.

Thus despite the reduction in global dependency on forages, grass-based dairy production remains the key agricultural industry in many countries.

New Zealand has a naturally gifted environment with a temperate climate, fertile soils and abundant rainfall that favor grass growth throughout most of the year and provides cost-effective and high quality feed source to the dairy animals, therefore embraces grass-fed dairy farming since ancient time to deliver high quality dairy products with natural goodness.

However, a major issue with raising dairy animals on grassland is seasonal variations in the compositional and thus, the nutritional quality of the grass, may lead to declines in animal growth performance.

Hence, dietary ingredients other than grass are also included up to a certain percentage in bovine ration. Dietary ingredients other than grass are principally included in cattle rations as more concentrated and less variable sources of protein and energy.

Concentrate is a ‘catch-all’ term used for bovine feedstuffs which can include a plethora of ingredients from different sources with specific nutritional purpose so that a nutritionally balanced concentrate feed can be offered to the cow.

Quantity and frequency of offering such feedstuffs to cows, is one key issue in trying to outline what exactly ‘grass-fed’ dairy farming means. In New Zealand, it is classified as grass-fed when average 85% of ration of dairy cows comprises of grass, grass silage and forage crops (mainly legumes and Brassicas) and the dairy cows mandatorily spending no less than 90% of their time (excluding milking time) on pasture.

Overall, grass comprises 85% or more of the average cow’s annual ration in the grass-fed farming system of most of the countries.

Advantages of Grass-fed Dairy:

Grass feeding has been demonstrated to have a number of positive impacts on the nutrient profile of milk and thereby milk products. They are,

  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid): Myriad beneficial health effect of CLA includes antiatherogenic effect, altered nutrient partitioning, improved lipid metabolism, antidiabetic action (type II diabetes), immunity enhancement and improved bone mineralization.
    • According to recent studies, at least 75 mg of CLA is delivered from an 8-ounce serving of grass-fed cow milk. The amount of CLA in cow’s milk tends to increase along with consumption of fresh grasses by the cows.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acid is another healthy aspect that can be obtained from grass-fed cow milk. A few recent research shows 8 ounces of grass-fed cow milk can deliver at least minimum 50-65 mg to maximum 120-150 mg of Omega-3s (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA). The relatively low ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s in grass-fed cow milk may also enhance the benefits of Omega-3s.
  • Few recent studies have shown that the overall fat composition of grass-fed milk is much more balanced in terms of health risks and benefits than many people assume.
  • Grass-fed milk is also a very good source of Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2, Vitamin D, Iodine and phosphorus as well as a good source of Calcium, Pantothenic acid, Selenium, Biotin, protein and Vitamin A.

Benefit of grass based feeding system on bovine milk:

In New Zealand, a pasture-based feeding system prevails due to fertile soils, a temperate climate and abundant rainfall that favor the growth of grass. The overall composition and quality of the diet offered through pasture systems have a significant effect on the composition and quality of milk.

Milk derived from cows fed pasture-based diets, is reported to have a higher fat and protein content with improved nutritional status compared to milk that is derived from a grain based feeding system. Furthermore, pasture feeding has been demonstrated to increase concentrations of a variety of beneficial nutrients including Vaccenic acid, CLA, ß-carotene, and Alpha-linolenic acid in milk. Such changes affect the nutritional composition and the sensory characteristics of dairy products produced from these milk.

The benefits are discussed in accordance with the chemistry of major milk components.

Milk Fat:

Fat is one of the most valuable and functional components of milk. It plays a major role in consumer preference of fat rich dairy products, e.g. butter, cream, full fat cheese, ghee etc. Furthermore, fat is a source of desirable flavor traits in milk and dairy products because a large portion of volatile flavor compounds are fat-soluble. The composition of milk fat can significantly affect the physicochemical properties of dairy products and the percentage fat content positively correlates with the highly satisfying smooth and silky mouthfeel and therefore to the overall quality of the final product.

Milk lipid fraction is primarily comprised of triglycerides (~98%), with diglycerides, phospholipids, free fatty acids (FFA) and other lipophilic molecules (e.g., beta – carotene, vitamins and terpenes). Milk fat is comprised of approximately 400 different fatty acids (FA), most of which are saturated fatty acids (SFA), with a lesser amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) (2%–5%) making its composition very complex.

In addition to that, milk fat contains Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLAs), important types of Omega-3 (n-3) FA such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids which are essential for normal physiological functioning and human health. As a result, there has been a growing interest in increasing these nutrients content in milk and possibly the most successful and cost effective method is grass-fed dairy farming.

  • Impact of Grass feeding on the Lipid Fraction:

Grass-fed system attributes to a higher milk fat content due to high fiber and minerals content that induce fat synthesis in the mammary gland. Two sources of milk FA in bovine milk have been identified: feed or as products of ruminal microbial digestion. Rations with green pasture increase milk fat concentrations by encouraging de novo synthesis of FA which emphasize the milk fat content of short and medium chain FA but not long chain FA.

  • Healthy Fats

High proportions of Alpha- linolenic acid is present in fresh pasture. As these FA represent the most abundant Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids in milk, their ratio is considered as an indicator for nutritional impact of milk fat on human health (i.e., lower Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio is beneficial for human health). These dietary PUFA cannot be synthesized by humans or animals and so must be sourced from the diet. In addition to Alpha- linolenic acids’ role as precursors of CLA, it increases the Omega-3 FA to achieve an improved Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio in human nutrition. Pasture feeding systems can lower this ratio in milk fat and increase their isomers. Such nutrients include Vaccenic acids (trans-11 C18:1); Alpha – linolenic acid (C18:3); cis-9, trans-11 CLA; trans-11, cis-9-18:2 providing a nutrient rich milk with an improved thrombogenicity index compared to milk from grain fed system.

  • The Sensory and Quality attributes:

The FA profile of the pasture milks also affects the milk fat processability and the characteristics (physicochemical and sensory) of the final product. A significant effect on consumer preference is observed for grass-fed milk products. The effect of pasture systems on the FA is reported to have higher ratings for a number of favorable sensory attributes in fat rich dairy products, such as texture, colour, i.e., yellower in color due to higher Beta-carotene concentrations in milk, reduced hardness and rancidity scores and higher preference for various attributes such as creaminess, appearance and flavour.

A linear increase in the proportion of unsaturated FA and a decrease in the proportion of SFA are associated with increasing the portion of fresh pasture in the cow diet which impacts the textural properties of milk fat. Moreover, high levels of natural antioxidants such as tocopherols and carotenoids are transferred into the milk fat from fresh pasture, which are known to be associated with increased oxidative stability.

Milk Protein:

Milk is an excellent source of high quality protein as it contains the 9 essential amino acids, humans requires. Protein occurs in milk in two major groups: Caseins and whey proteins. Milk proteins serve as a primary source for indispensable amino acids (AA) and organic nitrogen which are important for growth and development. Milk protein bioactive peptides have been studied intensively and a number of these peptides were shown to possess antihypertensive, antithrombotic, immunomodulating and antimicrobial properties along with many other biological properties that are beneficial for human health.

  • Impact of Feeding System on Bovine Milk Proteins:

Milk acquired through pasture feeding has an improved processability, protein: fat ratio and higher content of whey proteins (particularly lactoglobulin and lactoferrin) which improves the bioactive status of pasture milk. Although protein production can vary considerably between and within the various genetic groups of cows, the feeding system has been shown to impact the protein yield too. A link between protein synthesis and the feeding system was established from the fact that the animal diet readily alters the AA content and function of the rumen. High content of methionine in pasture compared to silage and hay causes higher average concentrations of both L-lysine and methionine presence in the rumen. This variation in AA concentration translated into higher protein yield and casein content with an improved protein quality in milk derived from grass-fed system. Another study on grass-fed interpreted that the linear increase in the propionic acid content in the rumen, which increased milk and protein synthesis, thus the higher protein yield and content.

  • Impact of Feeding System on the Micronutrients content of Bovine Milk

In addition to the macronutrient component of milk, micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are also present in milk and are of essential importance. Fresh pasture as a plant material (e.g., perennial ryegrass, white and red clover) is a good source of various vitamins and antioxidants that are transferred through complex digestive processes to the mammary gland and then to milk. This explains the higher content of compounds such as Beta-carotene, terpenes, lutein, Vitamins A (retinol), Vitamin B12, Vitamin E (tocopherol), and phytol (a derivative of chlorophyll) in ‘pasture milk’ compared to ‘grain based milk’. The yellow coloration of milk, milk fat, and subsequently high fat dairy products is related to the Beta-carotene content. Such differences in product colour can affect consumer acceptance as some consumer groups associate a creamy milk and yellow color with natural feeding of cows.

  • Certification Agencies for Grass-fed in Different Countries:

There are few countries in the world that have agencies/ organizations for verifying and certifying grass-fed claims. Though the basic guiding principles are similar in all the standards, they vary in the minor details. Few notable agencies with their basic requirements are presented below for ready reference.

USA:

CertificationsRequirements for Label
American Grass-fed Association (meat and dairy)
  • Animals be raised on grass and forage only
  • They cannot be confined to feedlots
  • They can never be given antibiotics, growth hormones or animal byproducts
  • All animals must also be born and raised in the United States
Food Alliance, Certified Grass-fed
  • All livestock must meet or exceed level 3 on Food Alliance’s Whole Farm general sustainability standards, which cover integrated pest management; soil, water, and wildlife conservation; and safe and fair working conditions
  • All animals must be on range or pasture for their entire lives
  • They must not be confined to pens or feedlots
  • They cannot be fed any grain, grain byproducts or animal protein products
  • They can never be administered any antibiotics or hormones
Certified Grass-fed by A Greener World (meat and dairy)
  • The herds must first be certified Animal Welfare Approved (AWA standards which forbid the use of growth hormones or routine antibiotics and also require an annual review of slaughter facilities)
  • Animals must be raised outdoors on pasture for their entire lives and cannot be fed grain, grain byproducts, or any other form of feed concentrate
Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) 100% Grass-fed (meat and dairy)
  • The farms must first be certified organic, which means antibiotics and growth hormones are verboten
  • Livestock must be fed only organic pasture or forage—no grain or grain byproducts

New Zealand:

New Zealand milk is mainly produced from grass fed cows which calve in the spring. Grass is the predominant source of feed for New Zealand cows.

The tools for declaring grass-fed milk include:

  1. Higher levels of Vitamin D, vitamin A (in full-fat dairy products)
  2. Higher in CLA and polyunsaturated fat
  3. Higher in Beta-carotene
  4. A higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids
  5. Higher content of vitamin E and vitamin B12

* AsureQuality is currently in the process of establishing a grass-fed standard for New Zealand. They are currently working with New Zealand dairy companies to finalise the standard and anticipate completing by February, 2020. Once the standard is ready, certification will require auditing of farms and processing companies to confirm that requirements are met.

Europe:

CountryLabelOrganizationMinimum days at grass
IrelandTruly grass fedGlanbia250
UKPasture PromiseThe Free range Dairy. Available in Asda, Morrisons and Booths stores.180
UKPasture for LifePasture for Life Association100% grass fed
UKRoyal Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals welfare standards for dairy cattleRoyal Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals. Available at Marks and Spencer.

Predicted number of days whereby access to pasture may not be reasonable due to inclement weather – Average transition/freshly calved period (in days).

For at least 4, ideally 6 hours a day.

UKWaitrose milkWaitrose120
UKOrganic milkSoil AssociationWhenever weather allows – average 200 days. Minimum 60% grass in diet.
The Netherlands, Belgium, GermanyMeadow MilkFriesland Campina120, at least 6 hours a day

Notable Biomarkers for Verification of Pasture or “Grass-Fed” Dairy Products:

The biomarkers used for verification of pasture or grass-fed trace in milk and milk products are mainly classified into two categories: plant biomarkers or direct indicators, which are coming directly from the diet and metabolic biomarkers or indirect indicators, which are deriving from grass-fed animal metabolism.Plant biomarkers are not synthesized by animals. Their occurrence in the animal products at higher level is quintessentially due to fresh green feed. Carotenoid pigments and terpenes metabolites are examples of such compounds. These micronutrients are stored in the animal’s fat after absorption and are thus found in milk.

Metabolic biomarkers are the fatty acid composition of milk and milk products. Pasture-raised animals have higher proportions of linolenic acid in their fat than stall fed animals. Two derivatives of Linolenic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid occur at higher concentrations in grass-fed animals products.

Another health benefit of Grass-fed dairy products is improved ratios of omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. Grass-fed animal products have higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids over Omega 6, which is another metabolic biomarker to verify animal’s feeding practice.

Traditionally Grass-fed: A greener look to New Zealand’s grass-fed Dairying

Definition of Grass-fed in New Zealand:

 

The definition of Grass-fed/Pasture fed as per Animal Status Declaration requirements, New Zealand says, “Pasture fed means that the animal have been raised under normal New Zealand farming condition with year round access to grass (hay, silage, Lucerne, feed crops) and other supplementary feeds (including manufactured feeds provided that you have a statement from the manufactured that the feed does not contain animal protein or animal fat other than dairy).

You must keep manufacturers’ declarations. Where animals have been fed on a feed pad or feedlot other than for short term periods then they would not be “pasture fed” because of not having year round access to grass.”

This definition is in high alignment with the EU OMAR definition of Grass-fed/ Pasture fed/ Pasture grazed/ Natural/ Free Range. So, as per definition the products from animals that have been raised under normal New Zealand conditions with year round access to fresh or conserved grass or rangeland pasture can be classified as “Grass-fed”.

Why New Zealand is principally grass-fed:

 

New Zealand has a tradition of grass-fed dairy system, with cows grazing in the lush green pasture for most of the days during the year.  The country has magical landscapes of rolling green hills and valleys. It is a place where the human footprint is very light (three-million population), and the air is amazingly clean and pure. The temperate climate translates into mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers which is an excellent support for growing high-quality grass on the country’s extensive pasture lands.

The cattle enjoy a pleasant life, happy and free to roam in the sunshine and eating healthy non-GMO grasses all day long. As a result, derived from grass-fed cow milks, New Zealand’s dairy products are significantly higher in flavor, nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

These give New Zealand’s grass-fed dairy products a unique selling point of becoming more “healthier” & “natural” and place as premium in the international market. Therefore, the grass-fed dairying of New Zealand is a story about tradition, climate, dairy expertise and quality.

Pasture grazing is not the only factor to achieve a successful grass-fed practice. Rather to accomplish maximum nutrition from healthy green fresh grass necessitates robust farm and dairy expertise and management system. All together enables grass-fed Dairying to produce grass-fed milk and milk products.

To understand the reason why New Zealand’s dairy is primarily grass-fed, it is necessary to discuss how, for a long time, the unique natural environment and science together helps pasture based dairy system to grow up.

When the grain/ cereal based feed cost is so high and milk prices are uncertain, how the pasture based system works so well to provide sustainable return to the farmers while producing high quality dairy foods for the world’s market at a reasonable price.

Successful grass-based dairy farming requires proper milieu of management, observation and dairy farming skill which only achievable with experience, patience and persistent learning. The traditional knowledge of dairying accrued over years is the major strength of NZ’s grass-fed dairying. Technological advances have further enriched the efforts of the farmers.

The Environmental Impacts:

Being remote islands in the South Pacific, New Zealand has a huge natural advantage due to its wonderful biosecurity. New Zealand is naturally free from pests and diseases that normally affect dairy farming extensively in many parts of the world. 

NZ has moderate temperatures, fertile soil, plentiful rainfall and abundant sunshine that help the pastures to grow thick with lush green grass.

Grass is therefore, a natural, inexpensive and sustainable feed-stuff for cows and grassland grazing of dairy animals year round is the common practice. The soothing nature of the country naturally supports the grass-fed dairy farming.

Encashing the environmental positivity, the grass-fed dairy system provides New Zealand’s dairy a unique selling point in the international market. This is because grass-fed dairy products are considered as more “healthier” and “natural” than the TMR/ grain fed products by the consumers.

The impacts of grass feeding on nutritional profile of milk also help to make such dairy products as premium and superior.

Feed resource management:

In a grass-fed system, milk production along with animal’s body condition and fertility issues are highly dependent and balanced on energy intake, precisely pasture intake. Thus any fluctuations in the quantity and quality of milk production, milk solid contents, loss of animal’s body condition score or prolonged postpartum anoestrus are very much likely due to limits on pasture intake. Therefore accomplishment of a successful economic grass-fed system in New Zealand is based on managing the pasture growth, feed nutrition, diversity and optimum supply. To remain in a grass-fed system for generations and to produce best quality grass-fed milk and milk products,   the dairy practitioners of the country follow robust seasonality of feed supply to obtain maximum goodness of pasture based system while achieving a judicial financial management.

Composite ryegrass and clover are fundamental pastures in New Zealand. In New Zealand’s weather, grazed pasture is prone to change in quality and quantity depending upon the season, plant species, agronomic condition, grazing management, conservation of excess growth, weeding etc. The plant breeders overcome these constraints by developing season based forage species with higher content of non-structural carbohydrate, reduced lignin content and condensed tannins for both pasture and supplementary feed.

The peak growth season of pasture in NZ is late spring and early summer whereas the lesser season coincides with autumn rains. To maximise the efficiency of pasture harvest, dairy farms coincide the period of peak pasture growth with time of peak milk production.

Surplus grass is always harvested and stored as hay or silage and used as the most common supplement. The 2000-2001 Economic farm Survey identified that the dry matter intake of the “average New Zealand Dairy Cows” comprised of 88.5% grazed pasture, 5.5 % pasture silage, 3.0% maize silage, 2.0% purchased grazing and 1% other supplements, which make pasture as staple for them.

The input of concentrate per kg of milk varies significantly in relation to farm production systems in various countries as the following IFCN statistics show. New Zealand stands minimum in that aspect.

 

Concentrate per kg of milkCountry
>440gUS, Finland, Hungary, Spain, Israel, India
250g – 400 gAustria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic, Colombia, Argentina
100g – 250gNetherlands, France, United Kingdom, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Estonia
<100gSwitzerland and New Zealand

 

Seasonal Dairying and Economics

Seasonal dairying was first started in New Zealand. Feeding grains and concentrates is about 6 to 12 times costlier than grazing in New Zealand. Therefore, grass feeding is undoubtedly the economic option while accruing most of all necessary nutrition for dairy animals. The maximum utilization of pasture ensures a reasonable farm expenditure and sustainable return to the farmer.

The seasonal system is basically to match the calvin cycle and lactation of the cows to the season of highest grazing quality and quantity. On the other hand, as all the cows dry off together, it is not necessary to milk for a period when green pasture is scarce and milk production is more expensive.

Timing calving:

Nutritional requirements remain high immediately after calving for maintaining the lactation and attaining peak of lactation curve. Thus the requirement of green lush pasture during this phase is of prime importance to attain high total lactation yield.

Managing breeding of the herd plays a pivotal role in attaining seasonal calving matching with seasonal availability of high quality pasture.

This necessitates intensive breeding within a short span of time of 8-12 weeks ensuring calving during favourable period in terms of pasture availability. The challenge thus is successful breeding of large chunks of herd within the planned period.

Optimal target is to bring more than 90% of the herd for breeding within the first three weeks of breeding period and attaining conception rate of around 60% with artificial insemination. The major challenge is to reduce the occurrence of prolonged postpartum anovulatory anoestrus which can alter seasonal breeding patterns of the herd thus having a cascading effect in subsequent years.

Different strategies ranging from nutritional supplementation during periparturient period to hormonal supplementation are deployed to tackle the scenario with varied success.

All these efforts of compacting the breeding period lead to compaction in calving period leading to maximum utilization of the available pasture during high availability ensuring maximum grass feeding..

Animal Welfare and Health Management:

The natural living conditions of pastures decrease animal stress and remove unnecessary burdens on the immune system. A well-planned pasture-based system can effectively eliminate many vectors for disease and alleviate many nutritional disorders.

New Zealand’s grass feeding based dairying provides nutrition through pasture grazing management and supplementation which on the other hand helps in developing natural immunity in animals by increasing animal and plant biodiversity on the farm.

  • Healthy milk from “Happy Cows”:

The grass-fed cows possibly meeting all the components of animal welfare. As they graze in pasture, cows are back to their most natural environment and behaviour. The temperate climate, abundant water and natural protection from pests and diseases maintain the highest level of welfare of the cows. Happy cows produce healthy and wholesome milk, creating strong foundation for NZ Dairying.  New Zealand’s animal welfare frameworks have received a number 1 ranking in the World Animal Protection’s Animal Protection Index.

  • Tradition and Global reputation for dairy since ancient time:

The first dairy processing factory was established in New Zealand around 1875 and the first export shipment of refrigerated butter left Dunedin in 1882. Since then the dairy industry has expanded a lot and at present NZ is the world’s 8th largest dairy producer and exports 95% of the milk produced per year.

New Zealand’s grass-fed dairying is one of the major selling points for its $9 billion annual global dairy trade. As a result, the country is very strict on the “Pasture-grazed system” and continuously developing their dairy and farm expertise through research and development.

Apart from that NZ’s dairy sector build up a strong value chain and traceable, secured supply system involving rigorous quality control and quality assurance which is another reason for the sector’s international success. Intangible assets, like strong customer relationships, potential international partnerships, effective brands and reputations are another important side, the sector developed and continuously improving.

Besides that, New Zealand has one of the most stringent traceability and food safety regulations with extremely sophisticated and sensitive testing methods to certify the quality and safety of foods to provide safe and suitable food in New Zealand and for export. The NZ’s Ministry of Primary Industries is responsible for legislation that covers all aspects of food safety, including production, processing, transport and retailing of dairy products.

In the year to June 2018 New Zealand dairy exports were valued at approximately NZ$16.667 billion (US$ 11.87 billion). The top five dairy export products were: whole milk powder (NZ$5.8 billion), butter (NZ$ 2.18 billion), cheese (NZ$1.9 billion), infant formula (NZ$1.2 billion) and skim milk powder (NZ$1.1 billion).

  • Premium milk and milk products:

Pasture feeding supports the very high competitive position of New Zealand in the world’s dairy market. The overall composition and quality of milk derived from cows fed pasture-based diets, is reported to have a higher fat and protein content with improved nutritional status. Pasture feeding is repeatedly addressed as an enhancer of several beneficial nutrients including Vaccenic acid, CLA, Beta-carotene, and Alpha-linolenic acid. Such changes affect the nutritional composition and the sensory characteristics including colour and textural properties of dairy products produced from grass-fed milk. Pasture derived dairy products are famous as “Grass-Fed” dairy products and considered as more “healthy”, “natural” and obviously “premium” by the customers of the world market which eventually results an excellent economic return to the dairy practitioner.

Moreover, certification organizations are now coming forward to certify “grass-fed” with the support of potential biomarkers of pasture feeding. This is encouraging NZ’s farmers to stick to the traditional grass-fed system by ensuring premium price their milk.

  • “100 % New Zealand”:

Another reward of pasture based dairying is laying the “100 % New Zealand” concept. The natural practice of grass-fed dairying makes New Zealand’s dairy products quintessentially “grass-fed”. The flavour of grass-fed dairy products appears to be affected by the unique characteristics of the climate, soils and forages of the places from which they originate. These unique characteristics are called terroir. “Terroir”, sum of NZ’s ambience and traditional dairying that influence the flavours and qualities of dairy brings the concept of “100% New Zealand’s” milk and milk products which is placed as finest in world market since long.

  • rBST free dairying:

Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), is an artificial growth hormone that increases milk production. The effects of rBST are still not well defined and claimed to be mediated by the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system. Due to its alleged effect on human health, consumption of milk from rBST treated cows is not preferred by masses.  Grass-fed dairying is completely free from rBST as most of the feeding happens in pasture with very little need based supplementation.

Milkio – Why are we grass-fed?

The vital point of becoming Grass-fed for any dairy product is purely based on the concept that the product is manufactured from grass-fed milk.

The vital point of becoming Grass-fed for any dairy product is purely based on the concept that the product is manufactured from grass-fed milk. The milk which is drawn from the pasture grazed cows who have spent around 90% of their time in open pasture and nearly 85% of diet for these dairy cows came from the grass, grass silage, hay and forage crops. Focusing on fundamental criteria of becoming “grass-fed” and how they are arrayed in case of Milkio, the present paper is intended to elucidate and establish the “Grass-fed” claim of Milkio.

Milkio Ghee:

Milkio Ghee is the fatty product derived exclusively from highly nutritious premium quality cream of grass-fed New Zealand cow milk. The product is produced from pasteurized cream of grass-fed cow milk. The cream has undergone adequate heat treatment to ensure microbial safety and is free from any added preservatives, colour, flavour or other additives.

It is free from animal body fat, vegetable oil and fat, mineral oil and genetically modified substances. It has pleasant taste and flavour free from off flavour and rancidity. The extremely low water content (<0.5%) of Milkio ghee does not allow microbial growth and offers longer shelf life (18 months).

Intense care is taken throughout the entire process to ensure the highest quality product is produced. The collection of milk on farm, ghee making process and packaging is carefully monitored and controlled to ensure product safety, consistency and quality. We meet Codex Standards 280-1973 for Ghee.

Our typical product specifications are as follows:

Milk Fat m/m99.6%
Moisture m/mNot more than o.1%
FFA as Oleic acidNot more than o.4%
Peroxide valueNot more than o.6%
Foreign matterAbsent/100 gm
ColourUniform yellowish golden
FlavourButtery, slightly caramelized, decadently rich

Our Ghee is microbiologically safe. The microbial analysis of Milkio ghee is as follows:

Aerobic Plate Count (cfu/ gm) max1000
E. coli (gm)Not detected
Yeast & Moulds (cfu/ gm) max10

Quality assurance is Milkio’s priority:

MIlkio ghee is manufactured under approved risk management programme (RMP), which is monitored by the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). All of Milkio’s raw materials and products are handled and shipped through RMP approved transporters and storage facilities. Marketing and shipment precautions are taken to ensure that product quality is maintained uniformly even in storage. Focusing on traceability, we ensure each pack of Milkio Ghee is identifiable and enable to track back.

The manufacturing environment is subjected to regular monitoring and food safety control to ensure highest microbial safety in the final product. The Samples are drawn from every batch of the final product and subject to laboratory analysis in order to meet the regulatory standards and produce high quality products continuously.

Nutritional outlook:

NutrientAvg. Quality per 100 gm
Energy (kJ)3760 kJ
Fat
    Total99.5 gm
    Saturated66.35 gm
    Unsaturated33.65 gm
    MUFA30.85 gm
    PUFA2.73 gm
  Trans Fat4.395‬ gm
  Omega 6:  Omega 31.4

Milkio Ghee, with a higher smoke point is a good alternative to cooking oil or butter. It is extremely suitable for frying, backing and sautéing of various cuisines. Milkio ghee contains all the advantages of grass-fed dairying, such as healthier fat composition, CLAs and high beta carotene content. Its golden yellow colour is very much natural and due to high beta carotene content of raw materials. The controlled processing stages preserve the grass-fed goodness of raw material and transfer it directly to the final product.

Our raw materials are from grass-fed cows grazed in New Zealand’s immaculate pasture: 

There is no standard definition for grass-fed, which can be applicable worldwide. Different countries have their own set of standards, protocol and regulations to certify “Grass-fed” dairying. As stated elsewhere, New Zealand’s dairying system is predominantly pasture based and thus a natural ‘grass-fed’ system.

Being a New Zealand based company and sourcing the raw materials from New Zealand, Milkio products meet the ‘grass-fed’ standard of New Zealand. Further as Milkio is in the verge of declaring them as ‘grass-fed’ in the world market, it is focused to meet the best practice as stated by various certification agencies other than New Zealand ‘grass-fed’ standards, such as, AGA (American grass-fed association), Australian grass-fed standards etc. We developed and set our benchmarks high enough to meet the baseline of all famous and stringent standard agencies to meet the “grass-fed” requirements.

The key requirements for any ‘grass-fed’ dairying certification is that the farm must be fully/ predominantly pasture grazed and at the same time should declare about the fact if some animals have been fed with non-forage feed or percentage of feed other than grass included in animal ration. The traceability of every grass-fed cow must be properly managed using a scientifically accepted method so that it can be defended with enough evidence to support the grass-fed claim to any Audit system, call of Quality and Certification agencies or market recall.

Milkio is a secondary producer and does not own dairy farms. Pasteurized grass-fed cream is the raw material and procured from New Zealand only.

While it is technically not possible to certify each farm separately by Milkio, the dairy farming structure in New Zealand makes it very obvious that the raw material is obtained from grass-fed cows. The commercial viability of a farm business is largely dependent on the feeding cost of the farm. While it is technically permissible to include grain in “supplementary feed” in New Zealand (“pasture fed”, note 3, ASD guidelines, NZ), it is impractical and not used because grass is plentiful and convenient in New Zealand. Grain, on the other hand, is 6 to 8 times more expensive than grass and unsubsidized, making it almost impossible to feed grain and run the dairy farm enterprise commercially. This makes the dairying in New Zealand quintessentially ‘grass-fed’ and at the same time the products of Milkio also.

Analysis of grass-fed biomarkers of Milkio Ghee:

Dairy products derived from grass-fed cows carry premium nutritional qualities and sensory attributes which are marked as biomarkers for examining and authenticating the “grass-fed” claim.

Generally, the markers are classified into two groups:

  • Plant biomarkers:

Plant biomarkers such as Carotenoid pigments and Terpenes are not synthesized by animals and can only be present in animals from dietary sources. Carotenoid can be an excellent bio-marker as it is present at high levels in fresh green grass, whereas processed forage, cereals, grains and their derivatives contain none or very low Carotenoid concentrations.

Terpenes are also abundant in alpine pastures. Thus, the terpene profile can be used to distinguish the mountain pasture of origin. Occurrence of Terpenes has been repeatedly reported in milk derived from grass-fed dairy cattle. Milk obtained from animals grazing pasture contains much higher amounts and wider diversities of terpenes than milk obtained from animals given conserved forages or concentrates. Terpenes have been successfully used to recognize animal diet and to localize the geographical origin of pasture-fed animals.

  • Metabolic biomarkers:

Approximately 95% of the fatty acids (FA) in grass consist of Linolenic, Palmitic and Linoleic acids. Fresh grass contains a high proportion (0.50–0.75) of total FA content as α-Linolenic acid and intake of it causes linear increases in milk CLA production (Elgersma et al., 2003). Lots of studies are already done worldwide to support that  milk from grass-fed cows can have 2-3 times as much CLA with average values of 2.09 and 0.81 gm/ 100 gm fatty acids for summer and winter periods, respectively than grain-fed animals.

In addition to that grazing has also considerable effect on improving CLA content in milk. Myriad beneficial health effects of CLA have been observed e.g. antiatherogenic effect, altered nutrient partitioning, improved lipid metabolism, antidiabetic action (type II diabetes), immunity enhancement, improved bone mineralization etc.

Ruminal microbes hydrogenate the unsaturated fatty acids in the diet to produce certain saturated fatty acids, which can act as marker of their feeding practices. Lipids in grasses are a good source of Linolenic acid whereas lipid in grains (a major constituent of concentrate feed) are rich in Linoleic acid. Thus grass-fed cows will have a higher proportion of Linolenic acid in their milk fat compared to their stall-fed counterparts. A rise in total Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is also found in the grass-fed cows.

Further, two derivatives of Linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid occur at higher concentrations in grass-fed animals. It is also evident that there is an increase in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids maintaining a healthy balance of these omega fatty acids in grass-fed cows. Further it is also observed rise of increased mono unsaturated fatty acids in the milk of grass-fed cows. Thus, metabolic markers in milk, especially the FA content and profile may serve a very strong indirect marker of grass-fed claim.

  • Results in support of our claim:

It is evident that certain fatty acids (FA) in milk/ milk products serve as potential biomarkers for differentiating the cows between grass-fed and grain fed. The analytical reports of FA of Milkio Ghee annexed with this paper are in accordance with the scientific claims about grass-fed.

It has been observed higher values for Conjugated Linoleic Acid, Alpha Linolenic acid, mono unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and Omega 3 fatty acid. It has also been observed low of Linoleic acid supporting further avoidance of grain feeding in these cows. Further, the ratio of Omega 6 fatty acid and Omega 3 fatty acid also support the grass-fed claim.

Milkio grass fed cow ghee is produced from grass fed cream which is procured from the listed organic dairy farms of New Zealand. Milkio organic ghee is certified by BioGro NZ.  Being organic is another step forward towards the truthfulness of grass fed as organic dairy products can only be certified if the raw materials are derived from green pasture based system. Precisely, green pasture is the platform; organic dairy is the produce (result) which is therefore definitely `grass fed”.

Epilogue:

With the rising purchase power and education, concern over healthy and wholesome food is growing. Today in the world of internet and information boom, consumers are more aware about what they are eating. They want to know where the product is manufactured, how the raw materials are sourced and what are the safety measures and standards. Further, consumers are inclining towards premium quality products ranging from organic to grass-fed, creating a market for this unique genre of products.

New Zealand, being traditionally grass-fed dairying system and world reputed dairy producer and exporter of dairy products across globe   has immense potential to cater the demand of grass-fed dairy products across the world. Based in New Zealand, Milkio is carrying the same chore essence in their business. We are committed to provide grass-fed ghee to our customers maintaining the complete essence of traditional New Zealand dairying. We are also committed to bring all the freshness and health benefits of the grass-fed to its fullest level to our valued customer. In the era of grass-fed products, Milkio wants to secure a place through their premium quality “Grass-Fed” ghee.

References:

  1. Alothman, M., Hogan S. A., Hennessy. D., Dillon, P., Kilcawley, K.N., Donovan, M.O., Tobin. J., Fenelon, M.A., 1, O’Callaghan, T. F. (2019). The “Grass-Fed” Milk Story: Understanding the Impact of Pasture Feeding on the Composition and Quality of Bovine Milk. Foods (MDPI). Department of Food Chemistry & Technology, Teagasc Food Research Center, Moorepark, Fermoy,Ireland; Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Ireland; Department of Food Quality & Sensory Science, Teagasc Food Research Center, Moorepark, Fermoy,Ireland.
  2. An analysis of the economic advantages to New Zealand dairy farmers of extensive electronic monitoring of dairy cows (2005).The Integrated Farm Management Systems Group. Colin Kingston (Director, Business Development), Rod Claycomb (Chief Executive), Sensortec Ltd., Hamilton.
  3. Bendall, J. G. (2001): Aroma compounds of fresh milk from New Zealand cows fed different diets. J. Agric. Food Chem. Vol. 49: 4825–4832.
  4. Bonadonna, A., Duglio, S. (2016). A mountain niche production: the case of Bettelmatt cheese in the Antigorio and Formazza Valleys (Piedmont-Italy). Qual. Access success 17 (150), 80–86.
  5. Borge, G.I., Sandberg, E.,  Øyaas J., Abrahamsen, R.K. (2016). Variation of terpenes in milk and cultured cream from Norwegian alpine rangeland-fed and in-door fed cows. Food Chemistry, Volume 199, 15 May 2016, Pages 195-202. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.11.098.
  6. Buchin, S., Martin, B., Dupont, D., Bornard, A., Achilleos, C. (1999): Influence of the composition of Alpine highland pasture on the chemical, rheological and sensory properties of cheese. J. Dairy Res. Vol.66: 579–588.
  7. Bugaud, C., Buchin, S., Coulon, J. B., Hauwuy, A., Dupont, D. (2001): Influence of the nature of alpine pastures on plasmin activity, fatty acid and volatile compound composition of milk. Lait, Vol. 81: 401–414.
  8. Carpino, S., Horne, J., Melilli, C., Licita, G., Barbano, D.M., VanSoest, P.J. (2004): Contribution of native pasture to sensory properties of Ragusano cheese. J. Dairy Sci. Vol.87: 308–315.
  9. Cheung, C. (2013). Policies to support sustainable long-term growth in New Zealand. In: OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 1076. OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/5k43gjfhwvxn-en. Available at:. (Accessed 3 February 2019).
  10. Chobtang, J., Ledgard, S.F., McLaren, S.J., Zonderland-Thomassen, M., Donaghy, D.J., (2016). Appraisal of environmental profiles of pasture-based milk production: a case study of dairy farms in the Waikato region, New Zealand. Int. J. Life Cycle Assess. 21, 311–325.
  11. Clancy, K (2006, 2008). Greener Pastures: How Grass-Fed Beef and Milk Contribute to Healthy Eating. Union of Concerned Scientists. Accessed at: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/food_and_agriculture/greenerpastures.
  12. Collomb, M., Butikofer, U., Sieber, R., Jeangros, B., Bosset, J. O. (2002): Composition of fatty acids in cow‟s milk fat produced in the lowlands, mountains and highlands of Switzerland using higher solution gas chromatography. International Dairy Journal, Vol. 12: 649–659.
  13. Couvreur, S., C. Hurtaud, C. Lopez, L. Delaby, and Peyraud, J.L. (2006). The linear relationship between the proportion of fresh grass in the cow diet, milk fatty acid composition, and butter properties. Journal of Dairy Science 89:1956-1969.
  14. Dhiman, T.R., Anand G.R., Satter L.D., and Pariza M.W. (1999). Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets. Journal of Dairy Science 82:2146-2156.
  15. Giampiero L., Giovanni P., Damiano C. (2016). The supply chains of cow grass-fed milk. Chapter 9, Department Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences and Department of Management, University of Turin, Torino, Italy.
  16. Ministry for the Environment (2018). New Zealand’s Climate Change Programme. Available at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/climate-change/what-government-doing/new-zealands-climate change-programme (Accessed 11 February 2019).
  17. Mitelut, A., Popa, M., Culetu, A., Abram, V. (2010): Establishing produce origin through biochemical markers identification. Scientific bulletin biotechnology, u.ş.a.m.v.bucharest, series, vol., p.44 – 49.
  18. Nelson, J.P., Kennedy, P.E. (2009). The use (and abuse) of meta-analysis in environmental and natural resource economics: an assessment. Environ. Resour. Econ. 42 (3), 345–377.
  19. Paine L(2009). Grass-based dairy products: challenges and opportunities (2009). Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
  20. Provenza, F. D., Kronberg, S.L.,  and Gregorini, P. (2019). Is Grass-fed Meat and Dairy Better for Human and Environmental Health?.Frontair Nutrition; 6: 26. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2019.00026.
  21. Rinehart, L (2009).Dairy Production on Pasture: An Introduction to Grass-Based and Seasonal Dairying . NCAT Agriculture Specialist. NCAT : IP340.
  22. Verkerk, G. (2003). Pasture based dairying: Challenges and rewards for New Zealand producers. Theriogenology, 59,553-56.
  23. Yanga, B. W., Renniec. G., Ledgardc, S., Mercerc. G., Luccic, G. (2020). Impact of delivering ‘green’ dairy products on farm in New Zealand. Agricultural Systems 178, 102747.

Appendix:

  • Grass-fed biomarkers analytical report 
  • RMP declaration and registration documents
  • Grass-fed ghee specifications.
Share Our Story :
Share