24 October 1997

Milk from grass a healthier option

MILK from cows fed grazed grass rather than silage is better for your health.

Thats the message of Richard Dewhurst, of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, Aberystwyth.

He has examined the potential of improving levels of beneficial fatty acids in grass and silage fed to ruminants and, therefore, in milk and meat. Including fish oil in diets – a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids – is not an option because it has adverse effects on taste and keeping quality.

But grass contains linolenic acid which is a beneficial (omega 3) fatty acid. Some escapes digestion and appears in milk and meat.

"The difficulty is omega 3 is lost during silage making – 50% is lost when grass is wilted for two days," says Dr Dewhurst.

He suggests there could be potential to develop niche, high value markets for milk from grass fed cows.

that would be rich in omega 3.