What Grass-fed means?


The nutrients and health effects from dairy products vary greatly depending on the diet of the cows.

Understanding “The Grass-fed”

Various countries have base-lined their own set of standards for grass-fed. At Milkio we strive our best to meet best practices from the key ones such as AGA (American grass-fed association), the Australian grass-fed standards and our own New Zealand grass-fed standards.

What Grass-fed means? – Some facts

The nutrients and health effects from dairy products vary greatly depending on the diet of the cows. Because grass is natural, fresh normal food for cows, dairy products from grass-fed cows is much healthier. 

By contrast, grain-fed cows produce food with lower levels of beneficial nutrients. The positive effects of grass-fed butter are real – studies show that in the areas where cows are grass-fed, individuals who ate the most high-fat dairy products had a substantially lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Health Benefits of “grass-fed dairy” products

  • Grass-fed butter is the healthiest butter with more than 400 fatty acids and a healthy quantity of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Contain CLA – popular as a fat-loss supplement and also protects the body against cancer.
  • Amount of CLA in grass-fed is five times than grain-fed cows
  • Higher omega 3 and vitamin K2 quantities 
  • Higher levels of butyric acid – which decreases inflammation – the root of many diseases
  • Higher Vitamin A contents – results in good vision, skin and soft tissues
  • Significantly higher MCTs than grain-fed cows – this helps boost the immune system and metabolism and also suppresses appetite.
  • The higher amount of K2 resulting in omega-3 and 6 fats which help in cognitive functions and even prostaglandin balance.

Grassfed Standards

Our New Zealand, cows consume on average 85 % of their diet as grass, which primarily includes fresh grass, grass silage, hay and forage crops.

American Grass-fed standards

AGA Grass-fed Standards for dairy have been developed by a team of animal scientists, veterinarians, ranchers, and range management specialists. All livestock should be allowed to exhibit their natural instinctive behaviours, and all animal handling should be done by well-trained staff that would induce low stress in animals. Pasture management and grazing plan should minimize the concentration of animals with no use of fertilisers, and any herbicide/pesticides

Summary of American grass-fed standard is given below:

Livestock & Breeding Program

  • Dairy breeds should be suited to the climate, geography, soil type and natural environment of the farm/ranch in which they are raised
  • The pasture-based raising of calves
  • Suitability of climate, geography and environment for animals
  • Exceptional grain feeding is acceptable

Animal Handling

  • Animal handling demonstrating low stress
  • Animals should be allowed to express their natural and instinctive behaviours

Land Health

  • Land health should be maintained by maintaining stocking rate, minimise the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides

Traceability

  • All processing and handling facilities must be certified and maintain adequate documentation of products and inspections are done periodically.

Forage Protocol

  • Grass and forage must be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant and diet must be derived from only grass, forbes, cereals and harvested forages

Pasture management

  • Grass-fed ruminants must graze pasture throughout the entire grazing season which must not be less than 150 days per year
  • Grazed pasture must provide at least 60% of a grass-fed ruminant’s dry matter intake (DMI) averaged throughout the grazing season
  • Confinement of all livestock must be managed according to strict guidelines

Supplemental Feeding

  • Supplemental feeding may include hay, silage, balage without grains and any genetically modified food must be prohibited

Animal Welfare

  • Treatment of medication of livestock must be tracked, and all records must be maintained including vaccination
  • Any antibiotic, performance enhancing drugs must be avoided

Animal identification

  • All dairy ruminants must be traceable right from their birth and must maintain records of all details for each animal

Australian Grass-fed standards

Australia has adopted Pasture-fed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS). The PCAS Standards are a set of requirements that producers must meet in order to become Certified Pasture-fed.

Summary of Australian grass-fed standard is given below:

ParametersAustralian standards
Livestock & Breeding ProgramIt is a compulsory component of PCAS that ensures cattle have not been confined for intensive feeding for production but rather have had free access to graze in open pastures.
 TraceabilityPCAS eligible cattle are fully traceable throughout their entire lifetime and that they are individually identifiable.
Supplemental Feeding A supplementary diet with cereals, vitamins and minerals under the eligible diet mentioned by PCAS

New Zealand definition of Grass-fed

In New Zealand, the cows graze naturally on pasture. The grass is a natural food source for cows, and New Zealand is one of the few places in the world where cows can graze on grass, year-round. 

In New Zealand, the cows graze naturally on pasture.

The grass is a natural food source for cows, and New Zealand is one of the few places in the world where cows can graze on grass, year-round.  Our New Zealand, cows, consume on average 85% of their diet as grass, which primarily includes fresh grass, grass silage, hay and forage crops The New Zealand standard for grass-fed also has a minimum requirement that cows supplying the milk pool spend at least 90 per cent of their time outside on open pasture.

The Grass and Pasture Fed standard assesses and verifies the farming practises across all New Zealand farms, focussing on the use of supplementary feed and cows’ ability to have access to pasture. Some explanations of terms using the word ‘natural’ in the New Zealand context are as follows, which is also very important in the context of the term ‘grass-fed’.

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

The New Zealand environment is ideal for growing grass. Moderate temperatures, fertile soil, plentiful rainfall and abundant sunshine help our pastures grow thick with lush green grass. The farming follows the natural patterns of pasture growth in New Zealand, making it one of the few places in the world where cows graze on grass for most of the year.

NATURAL FOOD SOURCE

Grass is a natural food source for cows. Annually, on average, 85% of our cows’ diet is grass. In New Zealand, the farmers are experts at growing grass and farming on it, and the New Zealand dairy industry has invested years of research into improving grass quality.

NATURAL BEHAVIOURS

New Zealand cows can graze naturally outdoors on the grass of open pastures, as nature intended. On average, they spend 90% of their time outside on pasture during the year. They are free to roam around paddocks and exhibit natural behaviours. The cows are healthy and contented, and due to this, the New Zealand dairy industry is internationally recognised for its high standards of animal welfare.

Summary of New zealand grass-fed standard is given below:

ParametersNew Zealand Standards
Livestock & Breeding ProgramPasture-Fed is defined as where a cow consumes its diet from managed pasture and forages. New Zealand dairy cows spend at least 90% of their time on pasture.
Forage ProtocolAll forage crops are predominantly grown on the properties they are consumed
Pasture managementMain feed for dairy cows is directly from pastures. On average 85 % of the diet of dairy cows New Zealand milk pool consists of grass, grass silage, hay and forage crops
Supplemental FeedingA small percentage of feed is given from palm kernel expeller, corn silage and dairy concentrates. Routine minerals and vitamins may also supplement the diet to ensure the health and wellbeing of dairy cows.

What should customers look for in ‘grass-fed’?

  • Consumers can often misinterpret implied warranty from the labels of the product packaging hence should read and understand the message on the labels.
  • At Milkio, we are keeping our message completely transparent and honest so that it will help consumers clearly understand the product contents.
  • Some of our competitors advertise products that are derived from cows that are fed soy, corn and other grains, among other non-grass feed, including grains that are genetically modified, and are thus not truly “grass-fed” in reality.
  • Also, it needs to be understood that even the best standards in the world about dairy products from AGA (and even standards in the New Zealand dairy industry) when certifying ‘grass-fed’ they do not enforce 100% diet of the cows to be grass.
  • In view of the above points, New Zealand ‘grass-fed’ standard, suggests the following key points that need to be considered while interpreting the labels on the pack.
    1. On average, 85% of our cows’ diet is grass.
    2. Cows spend at least 90% of their time on the open pastures and grass
    3. Strict norms as per industry guidelines followed for maintaining the health of the cows.
    4. Supplemental forage supplies do not contain genetically modified grains

Milkio’s Grass-fed claim

Milkio’s grass-fed ghee is made from milk fats produced from the milk of cows grazing in natural pastures of lush green grass, in pristine environments of New Zealand.

This grass is nurtured on fertile soil, and moderate temperature under plenty of sunshine, where freely roaming happy cows graze all year round.

Our grass-fed ghee follows global standards prescribed by countries such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand

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