We started milking cows with the goal of producing 100% grassfed/zero grain fed milk. What we realized is that there are other farmers who feed grain to their cows and yet they’re presumed to be grassfed. While they may not feed a Total Mixed Ration (TMR) like the big commercial dairies do, they do feed grain to their cows at milking and you can see as well as taste the difference.
We had a few calves needing milk but we were selling more than would allow us to feed milk to our calves. Because we will never feed milk replacer (formula) to calves, I stopped by a farm who is a well known raw milk dairy to buy some of their milk to feed our calves. I couldn’t help but take notice of how pale this milk was compared to our cows’ milk.
Producing milk solely on grass and making a profit is challenging. While cows have the digestive system that is best for digesting grass, the dairy cow has been altered over the course of generations to digest and perform on grain. This means to produce a substantial quantity of milk, grain must be fed. Our cows are no different, they are all descended from commercial dairy lines and they make considerably less milk than those who get a few pounds of grain twice a day. While we make a lot less milk, you can see with your naked eye the difference, and you can definitely taste it too.