We believe our planet’s architect got it right the first time; cows are ruminants by design. Ruminant digestive systems, purposefully, are built to ferment plant-based foods for nutrition extraction. Dairy cattle are extraordinary animals; their bodies possess the unique ability to convert organic plant life into milk, rich in fat, and loaded with proteins and macro-nutrients.
Learn more about - Whey Protein Macro Nutrients
It may not be the most popular point of view. Still, history shows that humanity, with our insatiable desire for abundance, is the force that has pushed alternative diets onto one of our planet’s most precious resources, cows.
When Did Cows Start Eating Grain?
Sadly, most production decisions that impact animal welfare are rooted in supply and demand economic theory. In this case, since dairy became a commodity for trading, post world war two, farmers in the USA became incentivized to produce a milk supply to feed the United States, and also many countries around the world.
During the last half of the 1940s, the United States was sitting on a massive surplus of nitrogen in dire need of repurposing as the was no longer driving demand for the continued production of weapons & ammunition.
Why Did Farmers Start Feeding Corn & Grain to Dairy Cattle?
From bombs to fertilizers, nitrogen found a new use in agriculture. At this point, with corn and grain in utter abundance, therefore wildly cheap, the pastureland-grass diet suddenly became the less feasible cattle feed option.
Coming off the long and stagnant Great Depression and entering massive population growth fueled by the economic boom of wartime created the perfect storm. As the relationship between supply & demand dictates, as populations grow, the need for milk consumption also grows.
How did Farmers Produce More Milk?
Along with this growth pattern, there exists at some level of demand an inelastic point at which supply is hard-pressed to balance the equation. In any event, when demand grows faster than a natural stock-pile can satisfy, either quality drops or prices rise to re-balance/reduce need, and often dramatically.
Serving the market at a low price point during a period of high demand comes at a cost. Unfortunately, the sacrifice of product quality absorbs the burden of that cost. As a result, nature gets altered, and in this case, the advent of nutrient-rich grain feed traced back.
The Advent of Grain Feeds for Dairy Cows
Nutrient-rich grain feed allows cows to produce more milk. Just like the GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) created to make the flesh of fruits fuller at the sacrifice of taste, nutrient-rich grain unnaturally pushes the limits of a dairy cow’s physical well-being to produce more milk, thus greatly forfeiting quality.
Farmers also quickly learned that by housing cows inside temperature-controlled facilities, milk production was less susceptible to slowing down in the colder weather months. The practice of climate-control, however, further exacerbates the quality decline milk. Although the volume of milk produced increased, the animals lost their seasonal break, otherwise naturally gifted to them by mother nature via the four seasons.
In general, conventional dairy practices milk cows up to 4 times per day. Contrast that with a truly Grass-fed herd being milked at most twice per day. Although the carbon footprint from dairy cattle is lower now than it was in the 1940s, it is at the cost of the humane treatment of our animals and their milk quality.
What Dairy Cow Produces the Most Milk Quantity?
The truth is, despite the 70% fewer dairy cattle in the United Stated today versus the 1940s, the US produces over 200% more milk today than it did in 1940. You might be thinking, how the heck is that even possible? In two words, It was made possible by the “grain-fed Holstein.”
In the 1940s, only 40% of the dairy industry comprised of Holsteins. Today, nearly 95% of US dairy cattle are Holsteins. Holsteins became popular when natural solutions where still being considered to increase milk production globally.
Holsteins are very adaptive to adverse environments and inclement weather conditions as well as the naturally most efficient milk producers among their class of dairy cattle.
What Dairy Cow Produces the Best Milk Quality?
The Jersey cow is by far the most efficient at extracting nutrition from grasslands. Compared to the Holstein, Jersey breeds are the best at converting grass to milk and have proved to produce the most abundant protein concentration of all dairy cattle breeds.
The Friesian breed also produces milk with high concentrations of fat and protein compared to the Holstein. Friesians are known for there fecundity, lifespans, and ability to make milk over their lifetimes.
Our farms utilize Fresian-Jersey crosses, the milk produced is rich in nutrients and made from robust cows who can live as long as to 20+ years of age.
Is Grassfed Whey Protein Better Than Whey?
Grassfed Whey is Optimized for Nutrient Quality Not Production Quantity. So the answer is Yes. Grassfed Whey is better than regular or conventional whey protein in terms of nutrient content. The majority of protein on the market originates from CAFOs built to optimize quantity.
The latest statistics show 9.2 million dairy cows in the USA, producing 22 billion gallons of milk per year (approx. 2391 gallons per cow per year). In 1944, 26 million dairy cows were making a total of 14 billion gallons of milk per year (approx. 538 gallons per cow per year).
Mother nature had already optimized a cow’s milk supply for nutrients and quality. We at AGN Roots Grassfed Whey are working to bring this quality expectation back. We produce the potentially highest quality grassfed whey protein available today.
Our amino acid profile is unrivaled, delivering the highest concentration of naturally occurring branch-chained amino acids on the market, serving as a testament to this quality.
Grassfed Whey is the Greatest Source of Pure Milk Nutrition
We whole-heartedly believe there’s an opportunity today to reverse the notion that replacing Grassfed cow milk optimized for quality with grain-fed cow milk optimized for quantity is beneficial. Milk produced from truly grassfed cows serves benefit to our communities, animals, or our environment.
The Inconvenient Truth about Common Tub Whey
The real estate footprint needed to support a single grain-fed cow happens to be commensurate with the dimensions of their shadow at high noon. As a result, CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), or industrialized-sized livestock abuse feeding centers are now a scary reality for nearly 8 million head of dairy cattle in the United States alone, where agricultural laws are slowly improving. CAFOs, in general, are the epitome of breeding and feeding, the reality of which would make you throw up if you found out your plastic tub of so-called “Grassfed” whey protein originated from such a place. We’ll spare you the YouTube link of CAFO videos, but challenge you to ask more from companies making the “Grassfed Whey” claim with little or no evidence provided to substantiate such a statement.
While the overall carbon footprint of modern-day CAFO farming is improving, this is solely due to the lowering of dairy cow headcount domestically, not due decisions made to impact livelihood quality for the animals.
Does Grassfed Whey Contain Less Heavy Metals?
Not only is the CAFO system wildly abusive and inhumane, but the reality is also, CAFOs produce massive quantities of animal waste along with other pollutants, including all the waste byproducts (Ammonia, Hydrogen Sulfide, Methane, and Heavy Metals). Even the most modest concentrated feeding operation can produce 2 Billion, with a capital “B,” pounds of manure in a single year. Because there is not enough land needed to break down this waste on each CAFO naturally, related diseases due to contaminated groundwater and are enormously common within several miles of these facilities. The waste is not the only concern; just the water used to dilute the urine and excrement for general cleaning is an unearthly volume.
AGN Roots Grassfed Whey contains a metal concentration aligned with our claims and sourcing. Our Heavy Metal COA (certificate of analysis) yields concentration levels 100 times lower than California’s Proposition 65, which is already 1000 times lower than the latest studies suggest may be considered harmful.
An often-overlooked angle is the emissions and the power needed to run these horror houses. CAFOs require massive amounts of electricity, often supplemented by diesel generators, to power pumps, agitators, irrigators, motors, and heavy transport equipment, none of which are sustainable or environmentally friendly by any means.
Grassfed Whey is Better for the Planet -
AGN Roots Grassfed Whey comes from only Carbon Trust Certified and Animal Welfare Approved farms, emitting the lowest amounts of carbon possible. The lush grasslands and limited herd density (1 cow for every 2 acres) ultimately offer a net positive for the environment, a far cry from the likes of CAFOs.
Sustainable Grassfed Farms Allow Generations to Grow Old on the Pastures
Unlike the average 4-5 year lifespan of a CAFO dairy cow, grassfed cows, our cows, live up to 4 times as long and are not sent to slaughter. AGN Roots Grassfed whey is the best because happy cows make the best whey, there is nothing comfortable or happy about tortures that exist in CAFOs.
Is “USDA Organic” Better than Grassfed Whey?
The “USDA Organic” standards for milk are part of the problem. It assuages the public’s demand for high-quality dairy products with marketing and branding without the sizable improvements to animal welfare and product quality it intones. Without it, we believe we’d be much closer to calling out CAFOs and grain-fed dairy farming in the United States and the systematic reduction and ultimate criminalization of these practices. We encourage activists to boycott any standard that supports minimal access to both pasture and plant-based food as acceptable for ruminants. When a cow eats energy-rich corn, soy, or grain, the pH (a measure of acidity) in their multi-chambered stomach falls, yielding an unnaturally acidic and thus harsh environment that’s extremely harmful. This increase in acidity is the cause of various stomach issues, including life-threatening and painful ulcers. Ruminants don’t care whether the grain feed was labeled “USDA organic” or “Non-Gmo” all they experience is digestive upset and pain. For produce, however, we support the practices of most Organic certification regulatory bodies.
What about Grade “A” versus Grade “B” milk?
Fluid grade milk (sold to drink), considered “Grade A” in most States, meets the standards that allow its use in fluid (beverage) milk products and, by default, in all other dairy products. “Grade B” milk, however, which doesn’t meet grade A standards, is notorious for making its way into dairy powders.
AGN Roots Grass-fed Whey comes from truly grassfed farms that ONLY produce milk far exceeding even 100% Organic standards. If an AAA+ Grading existed, AGN Roots would fit the bill.
The Benefits of Grass-fed Whey?
There are significant differences between milk produced by cows raised on Grass-fed fed farms versus a grain-fed AFO (Animal Feeding Operation). It is essential to understand that being grass-fed can mean different things depending on the claim, and products bearing this claim should support it with specific evidence. Regardless, being grass-fed is a single factor attributing to high-quality milk. Other essential elements include stress, general welfare, sleep, quality of life, water and grass quality, climate, etc. Here are the basics -
Fatty acids: Studies have shown that there is a significant difference in the biochemical composition of a cow’s milk-based on its diet. Research showed that grass-fed dairy consists of higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and lower Omega-6: Omega-3 Fatty acids resulting in a more favorable ratio. While omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, omega-3 is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Grass-fed dairy is therefore known to be superior to its grain-fed competition as it pertains to its fatty acid profile. Omega-3 is also known for its heart-protective function.
Conjugated Linoleic acid (CLA): CLA is a potent healthy fatty acid not produced within the body. The benefits of CLA are obtained only from the consumption of foods that contain it. Since a grass-fed diet leads to a natural pH level in the cows’ stomachs, it gives them a chance to produce high levels of CLA. CLA might be famous for its body fat, reducing, and muscle growth activities, but its benefits do not end there. It also boosts the immune system, reduces the risks of cancer development, lowers the risk of heart diseases, and lowers high blood pressure. Grassfed milk contains CLA levels as high as 500% more than what is considered typical by mainstream milk producers.
Other health benefits: Grass-fed milk has higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A and E than grain-fed dairy. Vitamin E is famous for its anti-inflammatory effect. Furthermore, grass-fed milk contains superior levels of glutathione, which is well-recognized for its anti-aging activity.
Most Marketed “Grassfed” Whey Products are NOT from Grassfed Farms -
Any protein product tub can claim “grass-fed” due to current regulations, so ask questions; otherwise, you may be paying a premium for false claims. With the deluge of sites and information celebrating in detail the benefits of supporting a Truly Grassfed Organization, predatory marketing has muddied the integrity of the “grassfed” Whey Protein claim. We estimate that 99% of “grassfed” Whey Protein labels do not source from grassfed dairy operations. The exact opposite is true. If 90% of milk in the United States comes from CAFOs, where force-feeding grain concentrates is the general practice, it’s reasonable to assume that a similar percentage of the whey comes from this milk.
Does all Grassfed Whey Protein Contain Higher BCAAs?
The short answer is no. The BCAA concentration we have been able to produce is the result of an entire system composed of animals, environment, and processing.
For any animal to produce it’s best nutrients, stress levels have to be low while happiness levels high. The environment should be appropriate and foster natural behaviors without farmer/chemical interventions like soil re-balancing after a hard rain. Even if happy animals in a beautiful climate produce incredible milk, the steps downstream of the farm need to work in unison with one single goal - To protect the fragile protein structures from denaturing.
Very few grassfed dairy farms can meet the heartwarmingly high standards of A Greener World’s “entire life on pasture” based certifications. Despite the trendy marketing phrase “100% grassfed” that you may be exposed to when browsing some of the biggest labels/brands out there, none of these brands hold non-profit certifications or are qualified to make such claims.
For more information around Branched Chain Amino Acids and the concentrations in various “grassfed” whey proteins, please see our blog addressing all the Grassfed Whey BCAA variances based on diets - Does Grassfed Whey Contain More BCAAs?
Why is AGN Roots Grassfed Whey Best?
While the popular and trending “grass-fed” claim has no clear definition by food regulatory agencies, several organizations such as A Greener World are working to raise the bar. These efforts will help consumers separate the truly grass-fed whey products from the bottom-line-motivated-powder-pushers.
If the term “Grassfed” comes to mean the whey comes from AGW Grass-fed Certified farms, then the following will be accurate: consuming grass-fed whey protein has incredible health benefits compared to conventional whey. By supporting truly grassfed whey operations such as AGN Roots Grassfed Whey, you can rest assured that your investment supports sustainable farming practices and every effort to elevate global animal welfare standards.