It’s a common misconception that cows produce all their milk from grass, and this myth may be why we’re still seeing a lot of the product in the supermarket.
But a new study from the University of Michigan’s Food and Agriculture Research Institute (FAIR) suggests that cows’ milk actually comes from plants.
The researchers analyzed data from about 4,000 cows in three states that produced more than 25,000 liters of milk per day.
They found that about a quarter of that milk came from grasses like soybeans, corn, cotton, and cottonseed.
The rest came from plants like alfalfa, sorghum, peas, beans, rice, and wheat.
The research team also found that cows raised in dairy farms tended to produce a higher percentage of milk from those same crops than cows raised outdoors, but only about a third of the cow’s milk came out of those same plants.
“The biggest thing that we found was that cows were eating a higher proportion of grasses and grasses were consuming a higher amount of fiber,” says lead author David Lusardi, a professor of crop and food sciences at FAIR.
“In fact, we found that grasses in the pasture produced about a fifth of the milk in the cow, whereas the grasses we studied produced about half of the grass, or a quarter.”
So, what’s a grass that is grass?
The grasses used to be the largest food source for livestock, Lusetti says, but as grazing became more efficient, the grass has been replaced by crops that use less energy to grow.
So, why is this milk from a grass not coming out of a cow’s cow?
Lusatis said that the answer may lie in the fact that grass is a very different type of plant than cows, and the plant is not genetically identical.
For one thing, grasses don’t produce milk like cows do.
“We think the difference in the plants in terms of their energy needs, they have different metabolic pathways to produce milk,” he says.
“If you have a grass and you have an animal that is lactose intolerant, it will have a lower production of milk.”
Lusici said that some grasses have a more complex process to make milk, and they are more likely to produce higher yields of milk.
He says that some of these differences could be because the plants are smaller and produce more milk, while other grasses produce higher levels of milk and require fewer calories.
The study is the first to use the full extent of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to estimate milk production from grass and other plants in a national sample of dairy cows.
Previous research has estimated the amount of milk produced from grass based on how much milk is available for the cows to drink and how much water is available.
In that study, the researchers estimated the grass-fed cows produced about three times more milk than the other grass-feeding cows.
“They were using more water than they needed to drink,” Lusidi says.
The FAIR team says that while grasses provide some important nutrients, like calcium, they also make cows sick.
The grass-based milk produced by grass-free dairy cows could help prevent dairy-related illnesses.
For example, in a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications, the FAIR researchers found that the grassfed milk produced less of a toxin called the toxin-producing compound di-nitrosomonas, which can be harmful to humans and animals, when compared to cows fed cow’s formula.
They also found a reduction in the amount and severity of stomach problems, which are commonly associated with dairy.
The authors of that study say that the results show that dairy cows do have a lot to gain from eating grass.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, it’s all good.
It’s good to eat grass,'” Lusisi says.
But the research also found some downsides to eating grass, including an increase in the risk of diarrhea and lower-than-usual fecal output, which could also increase the risk for diseases like colitis and urinary tract infections.
Lusini says that the study doesn’t offer a comprehensive picture of the health effects of eating grasses.
He said that this is not a scientific study and is not meant to be a definitive assessment of the effects of grass consumption.
“There’s not enough data,” he said.
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What we’re saying is that if you want to be more sustainable in your diet, it doesn’t have to be about eating grass.”
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