What Does Pasture-Raised Mean?

Find out what pasture-raised animals really means and how this affects your dairy.

Pasture-raised cows are animals that get a size-able portion of their food from organic grass grown in a pasture. Organic grass is grass that isn’t treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and organic pasture-raised cattle should get at least 30% of their nutritional intake from this grass. For many organic dairies in colder climates, they’re only able to allow their cows out to pasture for the required 120 days per year, but cows in more temperate climates can and often do enjoy even more grazing time.Animals can receive some of their required organic pasture-grown grass from dried stores and still meet the requirements, but ideally, we believe that cows should be allowed to do what they do best — roam and graze — as often as possible. Nothing quite replaces the nutrient density of fresh, deep-rooted grass, particularly when it comes from a coastal region like Humboldt County. The soil here imparts a wonderful blend of nutrients that helps the cows produce richer, better-tasting milk.

You may see some difference in phrasing when it comes to pasture-raised animals, and those differences matter. Most cattle is not 100% grass-fed, and organic cattle typically receive nutrition from supplemental grains like oats, corn, or barley, all of which must be organic in order to meet the requirements set forth by the USDA. This is typical and healthy for the cows, and most dairy farms have their own grain blends that they find to be best for their particular cattle. The only time you can expect to have meat or dairy from 100% grass-fed cattle is if it says so plainly on the packaging.

It’s important to know exactly what the various terminology on your food packaging means so you can make educated decisions about what you and your family eat. Well-treated cows should be brought inside during harsh weather, and during those indoor periods, they should receive a rich and varied diet to help keep them at their best, including dried organic grass from a pasture when possible.

At Humboldt Creamery, we do everything we can to ensure our cows have regular access to outdoor grazing, and they typically spend more than the required 120 days a year outdoors enjoying our lovely coastal air. They’re pasture-raised in every sense of the term, roaming the hills and getting a nutritious and balanced blend of organic grass and grains. The result is rich, wholesome, creamy milk. You really can taste the difference!