Monday, July 29, 2013

Raw Milk Monday...Grass Fed or Not?

Milling around a fresh bale of hay a noise is heard...

And the dairy herd heads out towards that noise. Hmmmm?

Moments ago this bale of hay looked pretty tasty to them.
Why would they suddenly abandon it?

For the REAL thing of course. Farmer Keith is changing pasture and his girls
follow him to the grass that is indeed a little greener on the other side.
Even with a lake of rain the girls will chose fresh over "canned" every time!
Years ago we fed grain to our dairy herd like most dairymen and women we knew. But then we visited another dairy that was 100% grass fed and their cows looked fabulous. So we did some more research and made the leap.

We expected a decrease in productivity...aka less milk, which did occur but not to the degree we worried about. What we did not plan for was the almost instantaneous increase in our herds health.

Less mastitis, less restlessness and aggressiveness in the milking parlor, (grain is like cocaine) less hoof issues, less calving problems, and less Milk Fever a very serious problem. It did not take long for us to be totally convinced that when it comes to cows, NO GRAIN is the route to go.

People like to trick us though. They will call and say

"Are you 100% grass fed?"
"But you finish with grain, right?"
"Well you probably start them with grain when they are young"
"Well maybe you just give them a little as a treat to get them in the barn for milking."
"Nope and Nada"

Then they go in for the kill

"But you feed them grain in the winter, right?"

Finally, satisfied, they will make a visit, smell the cows breath for fermented corn fumes and then and only then will they purchase that certified organic, 100% grass fed T-bone they have been desiring for some time.

They have reason to be suspicious. Some farms advertise they are 100% grass fed but when questioned admit they finish with grain or even more confusing is the new terminology. They will say their animals are "Grass finished" meaning the last 30 or 60 or 90 days before the locker date the animal is fed only grass or hay.

Like the term 100% Grass fed there is little regulation. The USDA allows you to label your meat 100% grass fed even though you may use antibiotics or hormones. And it does not require that the animal be on pasture a particular number of days like the 120 day requirement that the NOP (National Organic Program) requires.  Only the American Grass Fed Association prohibits grain AND antibiotics. What is a consumer to do?

TALK to your farmer. Maybe you don't mind that your beef short ribs have extra fat due to the extra grain the animal received. Maybe you disagree with the Recent Research that continues to point to the health hazards of the milk producing cow/beef animal that has been fed grain throughout its lifetime. But the only way you'll really understand what it is you are putting into YOUR body is to find out for certain what your farmer is putting into his animals body!


  1. great post! i have been looking for local grass fed beef and now i know what to ask!

  2. I hope your grass gets some rain today.

  3. I am so heartened to read this post. In the Yorkshire Dales there has been a steady increase in keeping cows under cover all year. A local farmer got some tainted feed and lost his entire stock. Our friends have their stock out in summer pasture where they are happy and healthy.