In the world of marketing buzz words grass fed milk is a hot topic of conversation, but what does it actually mean? Is grass fed milk sourced from exclusively grass fed cows? And is organic grass fed baby formula really the best option for your baby?
In actual fact, there is no regulation that states what a cow’s diet must (or must not) be made up of in order to label a product ‘grass fed’. This means that as a consumer, you are relying solely on the manufacturers word. Let’s have a look at a few common label terms used, and what they could potentially mean.
Grass fed 365 days a year: This label term states that the cows eat grass 365 days a year, but they could also be feeding on grain alongside grazing on pasture year-round. It is impossible to determine what percentage of the cow’s diet comes from grass and what percentage may come from other sources such as grain.
Organic grass fed :This type of labeling can be tricky, as the word organic is often used without the product actually being certified organic. The next step is to check if the label confirms the product is grain fed, 100% grass fed, or grass fed 365 days a year, which as you learned above, can become a grey area.
100% grass fed: This label is most likely that cows eat only grass, and their diet is not supplemented with grains. For milk to be 100% grass fed the cows need to have access to fresh pasture year-round, with appropriate feeds during winter months (e.g dried forages and haylage). 100% grass fed cows live on pasture, with no-confinement, and no growth hormones or antibiotics. As a result they tend to be healthier and their milk contains a higher nutritional content compared to grain fed cows.
However, since there is no regulation enforcing criteria to meet label claims of grass fed milk, companies may sell a product under the ‘grass fed’ label, even though their cows may eat a diet based on grain and grass.