Milk from cows fed a pasture-based diet is higher in fat, protein and tastes better than milk from cows fed a total mixed ration, according to Irish research.
Ireland’s grass-fed dairy
- Estimated that 96% of diet is forage on a freshweight basis
- 82% of cow diet is forage on dry matter basis
- 74-77% of diet comes from grazed pasture on fresh weight basis
Irish studies comparing the nutritional and processing characteristics of milk have supported earlier findings that grass-fed cows produce better milk.
These latest trials from Teagasc (Ireland’s agriculture and food development authority) were discussed last week (25 October) at the Grass-fed Dairy conference in Naas, County Kildare.
Milk from grass-fed cows had increased concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and vaccenic acid. Sensory evaluations revealed a preference for grass-fed milk.
Meanwhile it had reduced levels of palmitic acid, Omega 6 fatty acids and thrombogenicity score.
The study gave cows three diets
- Housed indoors and fed a TMR of grass silage, maize silage and concentrates
- Maintained outdoors on perennial ryegrass
- Maintained outdoors on perennial ryegrass and clover