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UK's organic cows are cream of the crop
Date:5/27/2008

A new study by Newcastle University proves that organic farmers who let their cows graze as nature intended are producing better quality milk.

The Nafferton Ecological Farming Group study found that grazing cows on organic farms in the UK produce milk which contains significantly higher beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins than their conventional high input counterparts.

During the summer months, one of the beneficial fats in particular conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA9 was found to be 60% higher.

The results of this study into UK dairy production are published online in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture.

We have known for some time that what cows are fed has a big influence on milk quality, explained Gillian Butler, livestock project manager for the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at Newcastle University, who led the study. What is different about this research is it clearly shows that on organic farms, letting cows graze naturally, using forage-based diet, is the most important reason for the differences in the composition between organic and conventional milk.

Weve shown that significant seasonal differences exist, with nutritionally desirable fatty acids and antioxidants being highest during the summer, when the cows are eating fresh grass and clover.

As a result, our future research is focusing on how to improve the nutritional composition of milk during the winter, when cows are kept indoors and fed mainly on conserved forage.

The study, which involved Newcastle scientists working with the Danish Institute for Agricultural Science, is part of the ongoing cross-European Quality Low Input Food project into animal health and welfare, milk quality and working towards minimising the use of antibiotics in dairy production.

This paper is a major milestone in the project and clearly shows that if you manage livestock naturally then its a win-win situation for
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Contact: Sarah Cossom
press.office@ncl.ac.uk
01-912-226-067
Newcastle University
Source:Eurekalert

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