The PFLA has been certifying 100% grass-fed beef and sheep farmers, which allows them to use the ‘Pasture for Life’ logo in their marketing, for the past two years.
“Certifying dairy farmers who are producing milk of very high nutritional quality from just pasture, is the obvious next step for us,” says Russ Carrington, general manager for the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.
“While we recognise that producing milk just from grass is not easy, there are several herds, led by brave, knowledgeable and entrepreneurial individuals, that are already doing this.
“We feel it is the right time to acknowledge their achievements, and to provide clear recognition for consumers seeking to buy Pasture for Life certified milk and dairy products.”
The PFLA ran a pilot project in 2017 with eight farms, which included three micro-dairies (29 cows or fewer), two medium-scale farms (30 to 149 cows) and three large-scale farms (350 cows each).
The results showed that costs of production were lower than conventionally farmed dairy herds, with no feed costs and often lower infrastructure and labour costs.
While less milk was produced, ranging from 2,433 to 4,500 litres a year on average per cow, the higher quality usually achieved a higher price – ranging from 40p/litre when sold wholesale for cheese to £3/litre for direct retail.
“There are other benefits of Pasture for Life dairying,” says Mr. Carrington.
“The animals, which are often cross-breeds, tend to be in good health so vet and med costs are very low, and they are fertile so replacement costs are small. The cows also live and produce for many years – most having six or more lactations.
“The milk these farmers are producing is tasty and suitable for many uses, from cheese-making to frothy cappuccinos or traditional liquid milk. With higher levels of important vitamins and fatty acids such as Omega 3s, it can also contribute to human health too,” says Mr. Carrington. “We believe there is a bright future for Pasture for Life milk and dairy products.”
The PFLA is currently in talks with 26 other UK dairy farmers about becoming certified ‘Pasture for Life’ and hopes to encourage the development of new routes to market for farmers to service growing consumer interest.
Dairy farmers interested in finding out more can visit pastureforlife.org or call Russ Carrington on 01285 889853.
Pictured: Crossbred ‘Pasture for Life’ dairy cows are fed no grain or concentrate feeds at all