What is Pasture Meat and Dairy?

We define Pasture Meat and Dairy Products as those coming from animals that have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or conserved pasture throughout their lives.

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Aren’t all cows and sheep fed just on pasture?

Surprisingly no. In fact, animals that graze on pasture with no other additional feed are something of a rarity these days.

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What is the difference between the words ‘grass-fed’ and ‘pasture-fed’ on food labels?

In the UK, the words ‘grass-fed’ can be used to describe food from animals that have spent only part of their time out grazing in the fields or eating conserved grass. The rest of the time they will have been fed other less natural feeds, such as cereals or the by-products of human food manufacturing like bread and biscuit waste.

If you want to make sure the meat and dairy products you are buying have come from animals raised purely on pasture, look for the ‘Pasture for Life’ logo. This food is guaranteed to have been produced to the highest welfare standards and truly pasture-fed.

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Do ‘Pasture for Life’ animals spend their entire lives in the fields in the UK?

No, and in many cases it would be unkind for them to do so.

The Certification Standards we use to define Pasture Meat say animals should have access to grazing whenever the grass is growing. In winter, when grass stops growing and is poorer quality than in spring or summer, they can be given shelter and given conserved grass. This usually takes the form of hay (completely dried grass), silage (‘pickled’ grass) or haylage, which is a drier form of silage.

On some farms where there is sufficient natural shelter and the ground is well drained, animals can be kept in fields all year, providing careful attention is paid to the animal’s welfare and soil conditions when it is raining.

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What are the advantages of Pasture Meat and Dairy Products?

Pasture Beef, Pasture Lamb and Pasture Dairy is:

Healthy for people:
Pasture Meat is lean, contains a high percentage of good fats (omega-3s and CLAs) and beneficial antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

Healthy for animals:
Cattle and sheep evolved naturally to eat grass and not much else. Feeding them a diet rich in grains can upset their stomachs and cause them to be ill and stressed.

Healthy for the planet:
Pasture-based farming restores natural ecosystems and wildlife habitat, reduces man’s reliance on chemicals to make artificial fertilisers derived from fossil fuels, improves the soil, and reduces harmful greenhouse gases.

Healthy for communities:
Small family farms provide jobs and strong economies in rural communities, creating sustainable businesses for succeeding generations.

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What are the disadvantages of Pasture Meat and Dairy Products?

A disadvantage for farmers is that animals raised entirely on grass grow and mature more slowly, lengthening the time it takes for them to be ready for market.

A disadvantage for customers is that true Pasture Products are not yet readily available in butchers’ shops and supermarkets. This means, that for now, most consumers have to find and purchase it directly from a farmer.

We are helping people to find Pasture Meat and Dairy Products by listing Certified Farmers and Retailers on our website.

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What is the difference between Pasture Meat and Organic Meat?

Pasture Meat and Dairy Products come from a farming system based on the type of food the animals are given.

Like humans, the health of our cows and sheep depends upon what they eat and how much pressure they are put under during their working lives. Our farmers believe that allowing animals to graze a natural diet, and avoiding feeds designed to accelerate production, leads to healthier animals and healthier produce.

Pasture farmers find no need for costly artificial fertilisers to make their fields productive. Nor do they need antibiotics because their animals are not subjected to stress, which is so often the root cause of illness.

The founders of the modern organic farming movement shared many of the same objectives as we do, and many of our Certified Farmers are also certified as organic producers.

However, organic certification only requires 60% of the animals’ feed to come from fresh or dried forage, which means that up to 40% can be derived from concentrate feeds such as soya, maize or wheat.

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How can I be certain a product comes from an animal that only ever ate grass or forage crops?

The best way is to look for the ‘Pasture for Life’ symbol on the label.

Current Advertising Standards Agency rules for using the term ‘grass-fed’ can be very misleading. Our Certification Standards assure customers that the product they are buying comes from animals that were only ever fed grass and forage.

If you can’t see the ‘Pasture for Life’ logo, talk to the farmer or retailer. Ask them what the animals were given to eat and whether they were ever fed grains or other purchased feeds.

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Who can join the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association?

Anyone can join us!

Farmers, retailers, butchers, processors, restaurateurs and chefs who already champion the production and sale of Pasture Meat and Dairy Products are very welcome.

And anyone interested in eating food produced in this way, or who wishes to support the movement towards more natural farming methods. Our membership page has more details.

Farmer and retail members can apply to become a Certified Farmer or Certified Retailer.

Certified Farmers who understand and meet our Certification Standards, can use the ‘Pasture for Life’ symbol on their packaging and in their marketing.

Membership alone does not grant certification. No member can claim to be a Certified Farmer or use the ‘Pasture for Life’ logo until a full Certification Audit has been carried out, and approval has been granted by the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.

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