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Grass Fed Dairy Q&A

The Grass Fed Standard for Irish dairy was developed as a response to market needs and provides a way for Irish dairy processors to make a verified claim that their product has been sourced from Irish grass fed cows. In today’s market, there are more opportunities to leverage the natural advantage of Ireland’s grass based farming systems. Feedback from Irish dairy companies selling and finding new markets for dairy products suggests that it is no longer acceptable to just declare that a product is grass fed, the market requires evidence to support the claim.  

 

Who developed the standard?

The standard was developed by Bord Bia using Teagasc’s grass fed model, and in consultation with the dairy industry.

 

Why was the standard developed?

As farmers you are devoted to optimal grassland management to maximise your farm’s production and profitability. Your farming practices mean that Ireland stands apart from other dairy producing nations as a predominately grass-based dairy system. However, without a verified standard we cannot provide concrete proof of this.

 

The Grass Fed Standard addresses this problem by providing verifiable proof to the market of your dedication to grassland management and that of the other 16,067 dairy farmers in SDAS.

 

What role does SDAS play in the grass fed standard?

Herds must be certified members of (SDAS) Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme to be considered for assessment against the Grass Fed Standard. Information gathered during the SDAS audits provides confirmation that the farm system meets the grass fed rules.

 

Is there anything I need to do?

No, the standard is a processor scheme and not a farmer scheme. For a processor to use a Bord Bia verified grass-fed claim on a product, the milk used must average 95% grass-fed on a fresh weight basis.

 

Who is responsible for the standard? 

Bord Bia has overall responsibility for the management of the Grass Fed Standard. This includes maintenance of the internal quality management system, and inspection and certification of processors wishing to use the Grass Fed logo.

 

What is the requirement?

The minimum acceptable grass-fed figure for an individual herd to qualify as grass-fed is 90% on a fresh weight basis.  It is expected that 99% of Irish dairy farms will meet the grass-fed threshold.

 

 

Typical annual Irish dairy cow diets from the Teagasc National Farm Survey

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Number of farms

275

318

314

341

327

Total intake as fed, tonnes per cow

22.7

23.7

24.8

25.1

25

Grass fed, % diet as fed

93.4%

94.9%

95.3%

95.5%

95.4%

Grazed grass, % diet as fed

74.2%

76.8%

76.9%

72.8%

73.4%

Grass silage, % as fed

19.2%

18%

18.4%

22.4%

22.1%

Grass, % dry matter in diet

76.6%

81%

82.3%

83.7%

82.2%

Grazed grass, % dry matter in diet

56.8%

61.6%

62.2%

59.3%

60.5%

Grass silage, % dry matter in diet

19.8%

19.5%

20.1%

24.4%

21.7%

 

(Source: Donal O’Brien, Brian Moran, Laurence Shalloo, Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark)