A2 beef vs A2 dairy. What's the difference? One doesn't even exist in the US. LEARN MORE HERE.

It's really not "grass" fed... here's the amazing (and somewhat icky) truth.

written by

Aaron Miller

posted on

March 8, 2024

cows-pasture-grass-fed.jpg
⬆️ This heifer is eating fresh pasture.

The Greenwashing of "Grass Fed"

Did you know that cows in feedlots can be fed pellets of grass and be called "grass-fed"? Did you know that cows that live on pasture year-round can be fed corn and soy and labeled "pasture raised"? Did you know that farms with a grass-fed certification can feed up to 25% of other things like peas, lentils, and canola (which are classed as "pseudo-grains")?

Yup, we live in a crazy world of greenwashed labels. And this is why, if you want the most natural and nutritious food possible, it's so important to know your farmer.

At Miller's Bio Farm, we don't get certified for anything we don't absolutely have to. Sure we could be certified organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, regenerative, GMO-free, etc. But, nope. We'd rather just provide you with tons of info on our site. We're an open book and give you the honest truth (have you seen the honest disclosures on nearly all of our products?). No greenwashed labels, here!

So, in that vein, here's the nitty gritty on what our cows eat.

What Our Cows Eat

Yes, we advertise that our beef, cow milk, and buffalo milk are "100% grass-fed". This is the easiest way to communicate the animals' diet to you. But, in reality, our cows aren't just eating "grass" (I mean, they couldn't be sustained off your front lawn). It's more complicated than that.

Our cows eat biodiverse pasture. They eat fresh pasture in the warmer months and dry pasture in the colder months. We know our cows do better on fresh pasture, because they produce more milk!

First off, we don't use any of the "cides" on our fields to limit plants and bugs from growing (we're chemical free!). So, there's a wide variety of flora that grows. Many plants may be considered weeds in your garden... and basically none of them are in the "grass" family. Cows love dandelion, plantain, mullein, yarrow, and mustard. Some cows stay away from like thistle. And some cows will eat onion grass (but we don't like it because it can change the flavor of the milk).

Second, our pastures aren't just "grass". Sure, we plant grass varieties like sudangrass and sorgham. But, we also grow a lot of alfalfa, which is a legume. It's a member of the pea family! Our dry pasture for the colder months has a mix of different kinds of plants in it.

How We Manage Soil Health

It's not just about what the cows eat, it's about the quality of the pasture. Not any old pasture will do. 

The health of the soil affects the health of the plants. The health of the plants affects the health of the cow. The health of the cow affects the health of the food. And the health of the food affects you! It all starts in the soil. At Miller's Bio Farm, we take soil health very seriously.

We farm regeneratively (you can learn more about what regenerative means to us here). That means that our soil is naturally replenished year after year. We do this in two main ways.

  1. Manure, manure, manure. As Aaron, the owner says, "Nothing builds soil like a cow." We fertilize the fields with lots of manure, and this adds so much back to the soil - nutrients, micronutrients, organic matter, and beneficial microorganisms.
  2. Specific soil testing and mineral additions. Our farms use the Albrecht method of soil testing. We work with a soil specialist to test many different areas of each pasture for dozens of things. Then, we add minerals back in (they're just crushed rocks) to give our soil the perfect balance. 

When you can maintain a perfectly balanced and healthy soil, you get better health all around - the soil, the plants, the animals, the people, and the planet!

A quick anecdote. A couple years ago, our farm ended up with an excess of manure. So Aaron, the owner, gave it to the next farm over. He spread his manure on half of his field and our manure on the other half. Then he planted the entire field with the same crop. Even though it's about a 1/2 mile away, the difference was visible. The plants grown on our manure were nearly a foot higher than the plants grown on the non-regenerative manure. Wow! What a testament to the power of good soil management.

What We Supplement With

Our cows mostly eat pasture. It's 98%+ of their diet. But, we do give supplements to the cows, too. This makes sure that they have enough energy and stay in optimal health. We give them a nutri-balancer with vitamins and minerals and probiotics. We also give them molasses (more in the colder months) for energy.

Another thing we give to the cows is homeopathic remedies. We use these both to prevent and treat any issues. 

Why Grass Fed (or should I say pasture fed)

Cows are ruminants (and so are buffalo). Their bodies are designed to digest plants, not grains. It's what nature intended. 

Feeding a natural diet (in addition to a healthy active lifestyle) keeps our cows happy and healthy naturally. This is a big reason we don't need routine vaccines, antibiotics, hormones, or any of that junk. Plus, 100% grass-fed (or should I say 100% pasture-fed) cows produce the most nutrient-dense milk.

What Do You Think?

Do you look for the "grass-fed" label (or any label for that matter)? Have you ever been surprised or frustrated to find out that the foods you thought were healthy perfection weren't quite what they seemed? What farming practices are important to you?

I'd love to hear from you! Comment on the blog below (no account required) or contact us.

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