Grass feeding in dairy - Opportunity for Ukraine
In this article we describe our own understanding of “grass-feeding” and practical realities of it in Ukraine.
“Grass feeding”, as we see it, is a particular approach to cow’s feeding. I assume, before “industrial” era for dairy farming - all feeding was grass based. But, when dairy became large industry and farmers were interested to improve cow’s efficiency - new approaches started to occur. As a result for the last 10-50 years, cows are mainly fed inside buildings and feeding specification is controlled at high level. The main way to feed cow is control everything it eats, when it eats.
Nowadays, “grass feeding” is considered an alternative approach. Sometimes customers are asking for products from milk, that was given from a cow, that was cared in more natural way. And “grass-fed” milk is one of such trends.
The main idea about “grass-feeding” is fresh grass that cow eats. But, when we study more closely, “Grass feeding” does not have worldwide standards and it can differ among countries. Therefore, depending on different countries, it is wise to clarify, what people mean by “grass-fed”.
To be precise when evaluating “Grass feeding”, we must check different factors*1:
- For how long througout a year a cow spends on the field, eating grass (it could be from several months to a whole year)
- Does cow eat grass itself or is it freshly cut and brought to a cow from another fiels or even country
- % of fresh grass in total cow’s feed
- What types of grass does it eat (grass, flowers, mix, etc.)
Secondary advantage in this approach is that cow is more active, it moves on a field, breathes fresh air - and as a result gets better health in general. Fresh grass, eaten from field gives a cow more nutritional value*2: 10 times more carotine, more Vitamins (D, C, E).
Grass-feeding in Ukraine
Historically, in Ukraine, it was a common practice to feed cows with grass. It was the most obvious way for feeding since Ukraine is rich in fields.
Compared to the US or EU, high-end feeding technologies were not widely implemented and remained “old fashioned” in Ukraine. As for today, these formerly “old-fashioned” technologies are now cold “Grass-fed” and are getting popular. According to Ukrainian legislation, there is a special land type “pasture“. Such “pastures” has been used mainly by private households, or small farms.
So far, there is no “grass-fed” standard in Ukraine, and it must be clarified for marketing or other reasons. On average, in Ukraine it is possible to feed a cow on a field for 200 days in a year*2. During winter time, when lands are covered with snow, it is not possible to feed cows with fresh grass. In such conditions, we can say, that Ukraine is closer to the US standard or “grass-feed”.
A.One - Radyvylivmoloko opportunities for grass feeding
It looks like realistic idea to produce products from “grass-fed” milk in Ukraine. It will demand milk allocation and planning.
Radyvylivmoloko local marketing have not been exploiting “grass-fed” factor on the market.. Local customers are not sensitive to that idea or they consider it as an obvious and common practice.
But for export markets, especially in developed countries, “grass-fed” dairy looks like an interesting advantage.
Prepared by Serhiy Hrysyuk
CEO, Radyvylivmoloko LLC
P.S. Here are some photos of a small farm, where we also collect milk. As you can see, cows are eating juicy grass.
*1 - newzealmeats.com
*2 - propozitsiya.com