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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?

The Grass-Fed Standard asks no requirements of farmers other than to be a member of the SDAS. Processors that wish to use the grass fed logo, must comply with all grass fed requirements and undergo an audit against the standard at 12 month intervals.

 

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.

 

Grass Fed Data as captured by the Bord Bia SDAS Audit, 2013-19.

Production Year

Average Grass Fed %

Average Concentrate%

Average Grazing Days

2013

95.74

3.46

252.4

2014

95.90

3.30

252.6

2015

95.98

3.22

247.4

2016

95.69

3.48

250.1

2017

95.16

4.02

242.8

2018

94.22

4.96

248.1

2019 (YTD)*

95.10

4.04

249.1

*This is audit year 2020, production year 2019. This is not a full year’s data.

Note: under guidance from Teagasc an alternative forage assumption of 0.8% is applied to each farm until Bord Bia can collect more accurate data referring to the use of alternatives forages.