Farmers’ cooperative, Isle of Man Creamery, is celebrating the launch of an exciting new food accreditation for the Island.
Isle of Man Grass Fed was launched this evening at Noa Bakehouse to an audience of special guests including representatives of Government, farmers, customers and the local media.
The accreditation is a culmination of two years of hard preparatory work and research by the Creamery, DEFA and local agricultural consultant Chris Kneale. It helps to publicly recognise the hard work and practices that the farmers who supply the Creamery have been using for many years, and helps assure consumers that there are real benefits to buying Manx milk, cheese, butter and cream.
Most cows in the British Isles eat some grass but in very different proportions of their diet. A cow’s diet typically consists of grass plus what are known as total mixed rations (TMR’s) and concentrates. TMR’s are single, total food mixes that usually consist of grains and grain silage (grains that have been harvested, stored and fermented), soymeal and commodity feeds. Concentrates are used to supply calories, protein and other nutrients to cows in a more condensed form.
Both TMR’s and concentrates provide cows with a comprehensive dietary source all year round, but essentially, they are the equivalent of processed foods. Grass is the most natural and healthy food source for cows to eat. A cow’s stomach is PH neutral, a perfect environment for digesting grass and fibrous plants like clover.
A high content grass diet helps to improve the quality of milk, research shows it is higher in omega-3 and lower in omega-6 fatty acids which is great for heart health; higher in vitamin A and E and CLA which is a fatty acid used for muscle recovery.
To achieve a high content grass diet, cows need to have access to pasture to graze freely and naturally. When the weather is too bad for the cows to be comfortable outside they should be fed as much preserved grass or silage as possible to maintain the grass levels of their diets.
The Isle of Man Grass Fed Accreditation states that cows are to have a minimum of 70% grass/preserved grass diet throughout the year and a minimum of 200 days access to pasture (the Isle of Man current level stands at 214 days). The standards of the Isle of Man scheme are considerably higher than typical UK levels of below 50% grass diet and c.160 access to pasture. Even ‘free range’ accredited dairy is only required to have 50% grass diet and 180 days access to pasture.
Healthy cows are happy cows and feeding them their natural diet and allowing as much access to pasture as possible really does make a difference to the products.
Isle of Man Creamery Managing Director Findlay Macleod said: ‘As an industry, we are extremely proud of the Isle of Man Grass Fed Accreditation. It shows the hard work and clever practices of our farmer producers and has resulted in Isle of Man Creamery being able to showcase a superior product in the market. The natural benefit of grass-fed is now being recognised by more and more consumers who are more conscious than ever about their diets and want to consume the healthiest and best quality produce.’
The scheme is endorsed by the Isle of Man Government and is fully and independently audited by SAI Global as part of their Red Tractor Farm Assurance Audit of each farm supplying the Creamery. SAI Global are the world’s leading food and farming auditors and their Red Tractor audit looks at all aspects of animal welfare and food safety on every Manx dairy farm.
Mr Macleod continued: ‘All in all we have a scheme that is robust, endorsed by the Isle of Man Government and sets standards higher than any other current scheme in the British Isles which results in great quality milk. So, with its freshness and low food miles, you can’t get better than Manx milk on the Isle of Man.’
All Isle of Man Creamery products contain milk from grass-fed cows and consumers will now start to see the scheme logo appearing on their milk, cheese, butter and cream to reinforce the grass fed message.