What Grass-fed means?


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

Understanding the word – “The Grass-fed”

Various countries have deciphered their own set of standards for grass-fed quality of dairy. At Milkio, we strive our best to meet best practices following the AGA standard recommended by American grass-fed association, the Australian grass-fed standards, and New Zealand grass-fed standards.

The meaning of Grass-fed – Some critical facts

The nutrients and health impacts of dairy products’ use may vary significantly depending on the diet of the cows. As grass is natural and fresh food for cows, dairy products made from grass-fed cows is healthier.

Alternatively, grain-fed cows produce food with lower levels of beneficial nutrients. The positive effects of grass-fed butter are quite attractive – studies show that consumers include grass-fed dairy in their diet plan enjoy a substantially lower risk of development of cardiovascular disease regardless their age and lifestyle

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
  • Contains CLA – popular as a fat-loss supplement and it is assumed that it also protects the body against carcinogenic disease
  • Amount of CLA in grass-fed cow milk is five times than grain-fed cows’ milk
  • Contains Higher Omega 3, 9 and vitamin K2 quantities
  • It contains higher levels of butyric acid – which decreases inflammation – the trigger of many diseases
  • Higher dose of Vitamin A contents – results in good vision and it promotes skin and soft tissues
  • Grass fed cow milk contains significantly higher MCTs than grain-fed cow milk – this helps in boosting the immune system, balances metabolism, and also controls appetite.
  • The higher amount of K2 resulting in Omega-3 and 9 fats absorption of body, which helps in improving cognitive functions and even prostaglandin balance in human body.

Grassfed Standards

Our New Zealand, cows consume on an 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, as well as without the use of any herbicide/pesticide

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
  • Limited quantity of grain feeding is acceptable

Animal Handling

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

Land Health

  • Land health is prescribed to be maintained by restricting stocking rate, minimising the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides

Traceability

  • All processing and handling facilities must be certified and maintained with adequate documentation of products, and inspections of the documents are to done periodically

Forage Protocol

  • Grass and forage is prescribed as the compulsory lifetime diet of the ruminants: only natural diet, collected from grass, forbes, cereals and harvested forages are offered round the year

Pasture management

  • Grass-fed ruminants must graze on the 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 and monitored according to the strict guideline

Supplemental Feeding

  • Supplemental feeding may include hay, silage, balage without grains, all types of genetically modified food must be prohibited.

Animal Welfare

  • Treatment of medication of livestock must be tracked, and all the records regarding medication and vaccination must be maintained
  • Any antibiotic as well as production enhancing drugs must be avoided from administering on the ruminants

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 or for production but rather have had free access to graze in open pastures..
 TraceabilityPCAS eligible cattle are fully traceable throughout their entire lifetime and they are individually identifiable.
Supplemental FeedingA supplementary diet is maintained with cereals, vitamins and minerals under the eligible diet plan 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 the natural diet for cows, and New Zealand is one of the few places across the world where cows can graze on grass, year-round. Our New Zealand cows, consume on an average 85% of their diet as natural grass, which primarily includes fresh grass, grass silage, hay and forage crops. According to the New Zealand standard for grass-fed, cows supplying the milk pool must spend at least 90 per cent of their time outside on open pasture..

The Grass and Pasture Fed standard assesses and verifies the farming practices all across the New Zealand farms, focusing on the use of supplementary feed and cows’ ability to have open and unlimited access to pasture. Some explanations of terms using the word ‘natural’ in the New Zealand context are as follows, which is also vital in the deciphering of the term ‘grass-fed’ according to dairy industry standard.

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

The pure and clean New Zealand environment is all about moderate temperatures, fertile soil, plentiful rainfall, and abundant sunshine, and these natural resources are the ideal impetus for growing healthy and green grass in NZ green valleys and open pastures. The NZ farming follows the natural patterns of pasture nourishment of cattle and livestock in New Zealand, and this is the reasons New Zealand is one of the few places in the world where cows graze on natural grass land for most of the year.

NATURAL FOOD SOURCE

Grass is a natural food source for cows in this Kiwi Country. Annually, on an average, 85% of our cows’ diet is pure and natural grass. In New Zealand, the farmers are experts at growing grass as the dairy farming is completely based on it.  The dairy industry of New Zealand has invested years of research into improving its grass quality to improve the diet quality of the ruminants.

NATURAL BEHAVIOURS

New Zealand cows are allowed to graze naturally on the grass of open pastures, as nature intended. On an average, they spend 90% of their time outside on pasture during a year. They are free to roam around paddocks and enjoy their natural life style which add freedom and happiness in their behaviour. The New Zealand cows are therefore found healthy and contented, and due to this, not only the milk available from these happy cows are the finest, 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 where a cow sources and consumes its diet from managed pasture and forages. New Zealand dairy cows spend at least 90% of their time on pasture.
Forage Protocol

All forage crops are predominantly grown on the natural properties as these are consumed

Pasture management

Main feed for the dairy cows come directly from the pastures. On an average 85% of the diet of dairy cows in New Zealand milk pool consists of grass, grass silage, hay and forage crops

Supplemental Feeding

A small percentage of feed is given from palm kernel expeller, corn silage and dairy concentrates. Routine minerals and vitamins may also be added to 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 have kept our messages completely transparent and honest so that it will help consumers to understand the product contents clearly.

  • Some of our competitors’ advertised products, which are produced from grain fed cows’milk (cows that are fed on soy, corn and other grains as well as other non-grass feed, including grains that are genetically modified) are thus not “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 product pack.

    1. On an average, 85% of our cows’ diet is grass and grass based.
    2. Cows spend at least 90% of their time on the open pastures and grass
    3. Strict norms as per industry guidelines are 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 the milk fats produced from the milk of cows grazing in natural pastures of lush green grass, in pristine environments of New Zealand.

This pasture grass is nurtured on fertile soil and get nourished by moderate temperature under plenty of sunshine, clean rain water, etc. and freely roaming happy cows take this healthy grass in diet while grazing all year round on it.

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