Grass-fed cows produce superior milk, research shows

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.

See also: New research claims health benefits of grass-fed milk

Meanwhile it had reduced levels of palmitic acid, Omega 6 fatty acids and thrombogenicity score.

Three diets

The study gave cows three diets

  1. Housed indoors and fed a TMR of grass silage, maize silage and concentrates
  2. Maintained outdoors on perennial ryegrass
  3. Maintained outdoors on perennial ryegrass and clover
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