top of page

Do our 100% grass-fed cows ever eat anything else?

We’ll say it ‘til the cows come home: 100% grass-fed organic dairy is different than all the rest. It’s creamy, delicious, pure, a little sweet, nutrient-dense…the list goes on. It’s the way nature intended– cows roaming freely, producing an age-and-size-appropriate amount of milk, living full lives. But, did you know there are a few instances when cows do not eat grass directly off the pasture? There are a few reasons our cows might not be out on the field eating grass on their own. Let’s explain.

(Video taken by Margaret Tafel)

Age is one factor. Until they are old enough to graze, calves nurse on 100% grass-fed milk. Most Maple Hill cows are not separated from their calves– which is an uncommon practice in conventional dairy farming. Maple Hill’s milk cows raise their calves (their own or as nurse cows) for variable amounts of time, often until they are weaned. The duration is very dependent on weather and behavior of the calves and cows. Ideally, they will nurse from their mothers, but in some cases, they’ll drink from a nurse cow, or receive real, 100% grass-fed milk from the milk tank by bottle. When not raising the calf by a cow, farmers let the calf stay with the mother for a few days (three to seven), and then they are fed with a bottle. We never use milk replacer, which is effectively a sort of baby formula for cows. As they grow, they learn to graze just like their herd. Some older calves might begin to graze while still on milk as well. Calves who are not with mom any longer live in a nursery of similar-aged calves, and are let out on pasture during the grazing season. 

Seasonality is another factor. In the northeast, where winters can be extreme, pastures are dormant, and as you can imagine, grazing is a challenge on dormant pastures. Maple Hill cows have access to a barn where they go to get milked or for shelter. They always have outdoor access, year round. During the grazing season, they are out on pasture all day long unless the weather is bad. But in the winter, our 100% grass-fed cows spend more time in the barn to keep warm. There, they eat hay, which is simply dried grass, and baleage (pronounced bale-age), which is fermented, high-moisture grass. This feed is usually cut and stored by the farmer, coming from the same land the cows graze in season. Sometimes it can also be purchased from other certified farms.That said, sometimes the cows will be fed their hay or baleage outside on the pasture in the winter. Even though the grass isn’t being grazed from the ground, putting cows on a pasture is still important in the development and readiness of the soil for spring. The cows love it, too– a little cold weather can’t change how they feel about their field!

At Maple Hill, we’ve been committed to regenerative practices since 2009 because we know the highest quality dairy begins with the health of soil, grass, and cows. We believe that 100% grass-fed organic dairy farming done right is the pinnacle of organic, nourishes families with the best nutrition, and leaves the earth better than we found it. We are proud to be selected as a USDA Climate Smart Partner — supporting the production of climate smart commodities throughout the United States. 

Our 100% Grass-fed Organic dairy products include: 100% grass-fed whole milk, 100% grass-fed 2% reduced fat milk, 100% grass-fed butter (salted and unsalted), 100% grass-fed kefir (plain, vanilla, and strawberry), 100% grass-fed greek yogurt (plain and vanilla bean), and 100% grass-fed cream-on-top yogurt (plain and vanilla). 


bottom of page