This is a book review of Pasture Perfect and some additional notes about Misty Morning Farm’s feeding.
Why Read Pasture Perfect ?
Jo Robinson’s popular book Pasture Perfect explains the far-reaching benefits of choosing meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals raised on pasture. Drawing on over 13 years of research, Robinson explains that products from grass-fed animals are safer for you and more nutritious than food from animals raised in feedlots. The animals benefit as well. Chickens are free to graze on greens, scratch for insects, enjoy sunbaths, and roost in comfort. Cattle, bison, dairy cows and lambs are truly contented as they graze on green pasture, breathe fresh air, and stay on the farm from birth until market. What s more, raising animals on pasture is better for the environment. It requires less fossil fuel, enriches the soil with nutrients, and turns manure into a resource, not a waste problem.
Robinson is the first investigative journalist to gather all the scientific evidence about the benefits of raising animals on pasture. Products from grass-fed animals are free of added hormones and antibiotics and are less likely to transmit foodborne pathogens.
The food is also lower in calories and higher in Vitamin E, Vitamin A, (beta-carotene), folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and CLA, a cancer-fighting fat. CLA is 2 to 5 times higher in animals that are allowed to freely graze and 500% higher in the milk of grazing cows as discovered by Utah State University!! She explains the research that has been done so far with CLA and two deadly diseases – cancer and cardiovascular disease. For example: They fed rats with cancer CLA and it shrank their mammary tumors 45%. A 1996 study of 4,697 women revealed that the more full fat milk in a woman’s diet – thus the more CLA – the lower her risk of breast cancer. The women who drank the most milk had a 60% lower risk than those who drank the least. There was a Finnish study that confirmed this same 60% lower risk factor. An Irish study extracted CLA from the milk of grass-fed cows and added small amounts (20 parts per million) to human breast cancer cells growing in culture. By the eighth day, the CLA had killed 93% of the cells. How wonderful to have unhomogenized, grass-fed milk from your own cow or a cow share program.
There are also encouraging signs that CLA may help with clogged arteries. In 2002, a group of healthy volunteers were given CLA supplements. It lowered a type of cholesterol that is a high risk factor for heart disease.
When the nutritional differences are between grass-fed and grain-fed are tallied, the superiority of grass-fed products is undeniable.
I know for us at Misty Morning Farm, we decided long ago thru our background in owning a large health-food store and being in the top 5% of distributors for the largest herbal company in the world – that people get much better assimilation out of the food than the isolated product out of a bottle. Not to knock nutritional therapy, but to understand that for us, it is a help – while we improve our diet so we can get the best nutrition from our foods where we feel we get the best assimilation of the nutrients.
Jo addresses the differences between a factory farm and a grazing farm. The differences in their diets (no hormones, pesticides, routine antibiotics to help them grow and survive their harsh and unnatural environments), they are not confined in close quarters, fed questionable ingredients or fed chicken manure (I did not really believe this until I talked to farmer after farmer who feeds it to their cattle-most will not feed it to the cow their family eats!) which cost 3-8 times less than alfalfa for example. In contrast, they graze on green fields, often with management intensive grazing, which provide a very high quality multi-specied meadow. In fact, we did not spray our weeds, as we did not want to kill the dandelion, chicory, plantain, and other herbs that provide so much wonderful nutrition. We have worked very hard to selectively cut/kill thistles and other non-desirables in our pasture.
I would recommend that everyone read Jo’s book. It is short and sweet and to the point and yet gives plenty of usable information. After you read it, you will understand why grass-fed is good for the animals, you, the planet, the farmer and just plain tastes better than your super market beef!! That is the first comment I get when I share a piece of my grass-fed beef with someone who is used to grocery store meat, “It smells so much better!” Watch Food Inc. and you’ll see why meat has to be treated for bacteria and other ills.
Misty Morning Farms Feeding Program
Just a note on our feeding of organic and non-gmo grains – We don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. If you study the cattle in the wild, (we learned this concept from all the fascinating facts that have been learned about natural horsemanship just from studying horses in the wild and all the wonderful changes that have come about in how natural horsemanship cares for the feet and the training of horses) you will learn that they eat a mix of green grass, dry grass, and seed heads from plants that are ripening at different times of the year and going to seed (in effect, grains). In balance all three play a vital role in their health.
In spring for example, we will offer our stemy (not good quality in other words) hay to our cows and they gobble it up in between their grazing times. Why? It balances out their rumen when the grass is to green and upsets their systems and gives them excessive diarrhea. They also freely graze just the seed heads. You can turn a cow out into a new field and watch them go around and just eat the seed heads for awhile, then they’ll eat green, then dry, etc. In nature, they would be browsing 100’s of acres and be able to get the diversity that their systems needed. In pastures, we have to provide the diversity.
Having said that, we do not feed our cows 20# of grain a day and burn them out early thru throwing them out of balance. (See Jo’s book for the differences nutritionally for people in animal products that eat out of balance.) For example, we do give them a couple of cups at milking time as a reward for coming in so nicely and to help balance out their rumen. That is maybe 1/20th or less of what cows in confinement get. We also give them sunflower seeds and flax seeds which again add nutrition and diversity to their individually pasture-confined diets. Ideally, we would let them browse the neighbor’s land and the national forest behind us! But in lieu of that, we do the best we can to keep peace with our wonderful neighbors and add that diversity by feeding and offering free choice kelp, trace mineral salts and other free choice minerals we get from Countryside Organics.
We also incorporate Management Intensive Grazing to encourage multiple species of plants and herbs to grow for the browsing and nutrition of our animals.
If you have any questions, please Contact Us here.
Adam and Faith
Misty Morning Farm in VA