The difference between organic milk and grass-fed milk
Every supermarket usually has a large selection of milk. Hay milk, organic milk, grass-fed milk and many more. But where are the differences? Isn't organic milk the same as grass-fed milk?
How are these milks different?
In Germany there are strict requirements for hay milk and organic milk that have to be met. Hay milk means that cows are fed fresh green feed, hay and grains instead of silage or concentrate.
The requirements for organic milk are regulated in the EU-Organic-Farming-Ordinance. Some of them are more space for free movement in the stables, GMO-free feed and zero preventive medication.
Grass-fed milk on the other hand is not a regulated term. There is no exact definition, which is why many vendors love to use this term. Even if only a tiny part of the milk is from grass-fed cows, the label "grass-fed" can still legally be used. The same goes for animals that spend some time pasturing, but are fed concentrate and other food the rest of the year - it can still be labeled grass-fed milk. The consumer can't rely on the label and has to dig for more information themselve. Well, there is one label that is actually reliabe: Irish milk. Because farming regulations and perfect climate in Ireland make grass-fed farming the most profitable option for Irish farmers. The German Magazin für Milcherzeuger (magazine for milk producers) explains it like this:
The Irish know how to keep production cost low. At the moment, their production cost is at 21 cents per litre of milk. How do they achieve such exemplary low costs? Among other things with this:
- pasturing for ten months
- little concentrate feed
- little feed conservation
- few workers (about 21,7 Akh/cow, with herds of over 250 cows only 17,5 Akh/cow)
- keep costs for buildings and agricultural machinery low
The closest thing to the "Irish Grass-Fed"-Label Germany has is the "Pro Weidemilch"-Label in Niedersachen, which requires the cows to spend at least 6 hours pasturing outside, on 120 days of the year.
Which quality differences do Grass-Fed and Organic Milk have?
Every organic milk that you can buy in super markets is certified according to the EU-Organic-Farming-Ordinance. All organic farms are controlled every year. But still, the focus is not on the animals here, but more on the farms and farmers.
Organic Milk and pasturing
Some organic farms let their cows pasture, but it is not required. Some organic cows do not experience pasturing for a single day in their lives. For certified organic farms, a small outdoor space at the stables is enough - even if it is made of concrete. Organic milk has nothing to do with grass-fed milk.
Furthermore, organic cows can still be tied to their spot by the neck so they can't even turn around. New regulations are on the horizon, but so far nothing has changed.
This makes grass-fed milk from Ireland different
In comparison to Germany, Ireland has so much rainfall that pasturing is possible ten months of the year. Of course, the Irish use this opportunity, because it keeps the cost for feed low and also means less work effort. Irish grass-fed milk is probably the only kind of milk that actually comes from the ideal picture that we like to imagine for livestock farming: Happy cows, grazing on lucious, green meadows under a blue sky. This is exactly what you support when you by Irish grass-fed milk.
We have created our own label for Irish grass-fed milk.
So, is grass-fed milk better for us too?
Of course grass-fed milk is better for the cows. But is it also better milk for us? Yes it is! Scientific tests have proven that grass-fed milk has a higher amount of unsaturated fats and a lower amount of saturated fats. The amount of Omega-3 is very important. This is positively affected by the avoidance of silage in favour of grass and greens.
Let's summarize: Organic milk may have higher quality than hay milk, but it still says nothing about wether or not the cows are grass-fed. If that is important to you and you want to be sure, you should buy Irish grass-fed milk.
You're welcome to check out our shop! We offer whole milk powder or protein powder based on Irish grass-fed milk.