What’s the difference between organic and grass-fed cows?
You mean there’s a difference? Aren’t they both healthy? The answers to those two questions are “yes” and “sometimes.”
While both certified organic and grass-fed cows produce dairy and meat products superior to what’s produced by cows confined to a feedlot, these two categories are different.
If beef or a dairy product is labeled “grass-fed,” it came from cows exclusively fed grass, hay and forage. No grains were included in the mix. It’s possible that pesticides were used on the grasses or hay, and it’s also possible that cows were given antibiotics or hormones. Grass-fed does not mean organic.
Organic cows are fed organic feed that could include grain. For example, our Reedy Fork dairy cows graze in the pasture and eat grass for most of the year, but there are times when grass isn’t accessible and their diet must be supplemented. (See the blog post on the cows’ snowy day diet.)
In addition, organic cows must not be given antibiotics or growth-enhancing hormones. To be certified organic, farmers must supply easy outside access for their cows and document that no pesticides or fertilizers were used on their farm land for the past three years.