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Percent grass in the diet of cows producing grass-fed butter available around the San Francisco Bay Area

I eat a lot of butter. It is my primary cooking fat, I'll often drink butter tea for breakfast (~4 TBSP of butter with herbal or green tea, riffing off of Tibetan tea), and sometimes I'll just eat a few pats or feed a few pats to my kids when they're starving and dinner isn't quite ready. I believe butter can be a very high quality food, and I feel great eating lots of it. 

I want to eat butter that is exclusively, or at least primarily, made from cows eating grass; not grain. I asked the producers of several types of butter available in my local market what percentage of their cows' diet was grass. Here are their responses:

Berkeley Farms

Cows are grass-fed on pasture whenever possible, but feed can vary given conditions.  They are also fed alfalfa and grain.

Kerrygold

From website: "The vast majority of an Irish cow’s diet is from rich, natural grass which grows abundantly in Ireland. Irish dairy cows graze outdoors on grass all day long for up to 312 days a year ... During the winter, when grasses stop growing, Irish cows are fed dried grass (known as silage) ... After calving, cows are provided with supplementary feed to help restore protein and nurture them through this period ... The majority of our cows’ supplementary feed is locally grown crops such as wheat and barley."

Organic Valley

Cows are primarily grass-fed on pasture, but they do receive supplemental feedings of grain.

Sierra Nevada Cheese Company

Cows are not exclusively grass-fed; they are also fed grain.

Straus Family Creamery

Our cows are pasture-fed and are certified organic. Whenever the weather permits, they spend their time out on pasture, grazing on the rich, sweet grasses that are typical for Marin and Sonoma Counties in Northern California. Their diet consists of about 75-80% forages, which include fresh grasses, silage and hay. The other 20-25% consists of a variety of certified organic grains.


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Jayefuu3 years ago

I was really surprised when I visited that all the beef you bought was labelled "grass fed". All of the beef where I grew up was grass fed and didn't know US farmers fed corn to their cows. Where I was they eat grass in summer and silage in the winter. Silage smells awesome.

I looked on the Tesco website and we have a choice of Tesco Value, Tesco Own Brand, Kerrygold, Lurpak and Countrylife. Of these only the Kerrygold boasts that it's grassfed.

Kiteman Jayefuu3 years ago

+1

Ever been in a barn full of cattle chewing their silage cud? If "content" had a smell...

(Boasting that cattle are grass-fed in the UK is like boasting that your crops are grown in genuine daylight.)

caitlinsdad3 years ago

So you will also be commissioning a study on bacon from corn fed vs grain fed pigs? I guess in US domestic, the commercial viability of free range cows would not be profitable enough for many to get into the business much less have the government subsidize it.

Beef used to all be "Free range" before "Free range" was cool, until the invention of the barbed wire fence.

and the ipad with the cow GPS tracking/productivity app. Turns out most were on a smoke break or chewing the fat.

A smoke break? Is that what kind of "grass" we are taking about?

Only in Colorado?

jofish3 years ago

Do you have any sense of which answer you like the best? Those all sound pretty much the same to me. KerryGold does seem a bit better, as it's grass/silage instead of corn, but I'm a fan of local over 000s of miles of travel....

ewilhelm (author)  jofish3 years ago

I've had their responses for a couple of weeks, and frankly struggled with exactly this issue, which is why I didn't posted the info immediately. I like the taste of the Straus the best (although haven't done a blind taste test), but for percentage of grass, Kerrygold probably has the highest. During the summer, I've found a locally produced grass-fed butter, but I can only find it salted.