Grassfed Butter in Canada

Grassfed ButterUp until fairly recently, I was purchasing Kerrygold butter from a place close to my house.  Unfortunately, due to Canadian dairy laws, it is difficult to legally sell non-Canadian dairy products in Canada; such is the Canadian dairy predicament for consumers.  Therefore, due to legal reasons, the store around the corner stopped selling Kerrygold.  Kerrygold butter is produced from the milk of 100% grass fed cows.  I am down to my last tablespoon of this butter, and although I could drive down to the USA to purchase some Kerrygold grassfed butter, I really wanted to see if I could source some local Canadian grassfed butter.

Why is Grassfed Butter Better?

Those of you out there that are not familiar with the benefits of grassfed butter, I would strongly suggest you have a look into the benefits of it.  A great place to start is here, where references are provided to support the superiority of grassfed butter over regular butter.  The benefits include high CLA (a very beneficial fatty acid), higher vitamin content, and better fatty acid composition.  Plus, I must say that the beautiful, NATURAL, yellow colour of the butter is just darn appealing.  I also must admit that I can eat butter by the spoonfuls, and if you are like me, by sourcing grassfed butter, you can be certain that you are getting a real health superfoodsuperfood.

Canadian Organic Dairy Regulations

For some reason it is not that easy to simply search the internet and gather the exact regulations.  A bit convoluted I find.  Although, what I was specifically looking for, and what we should all be mainly worried about, is the type of diet and lifestyle of our wonderful Canadian dairy cows.  What I was able to find was the following, sourced from here and here:

Taken from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food:

“In an organic dairy operation, all cows should have daily free access to pasture, paddocks or runways. Throughout the growing season, cows must be able to graze outdoors. At least 30% of their dry matter requirement must come from pasture. If raw or composted manure is applied to the pasture, the cows are not permitted to graze on the land until the manure breaks down biologically. Some producers compost manure before field application as a way to speed up this process”

Sourced from Government of BC website:

“What are certified organic dairy products?

Organic dairy products are milk and processed milk products from animals raised under organic management. Organic dairy producers and processors are subject to all aspects of the BC Milk Industry Act, from inspection procedures to sanitation standards in addition to the standards for organic certification.  Organic dairy animals must have access to graze or browse certified organic pasture for at least 120 days out of the year. Twelve months of organic management is required before an animal‘s milk may be labeled as organic. Dairy animals that require treatment with antibiotics, or other prohibited substances must be withdrawn from production for twice the normal period and their milk cannot contaminate certified milk.  Organic milk is transported separately from conventional milk and processed in certified processing plants to ensure contamination from prohibited substances or conventional milk does not occur”

Based on this information, I can confirm that at the very least, organic dairy cows have access to pasture for 4 months of the year and graze during those 4 months.  However, the minimum requirement of their food coming from pasture is only 30% (at least in Ontario).  Now, this is just a minimum, and it’s likely that the actual percentage would differ from producer to producer.  We can however rest assured that there are no antibiotics or growth hormones fed to our dairy cows.

I have also heard that in the majority of Canada, it is not possible for cows to be on pasture all year round do to our climate.  However; this simple climate fact does not convince me that it is impossible to feed cows only grass during the winter months.  It is not difficult to source 100% grassfed beef all across Canada, and here is proof.  With all this in mind, I thought I would try and find a quality Canadian butter producer that sells as close to 100% grassfed butter as possible.

Quality Canadian Grassfed Butter Producers

Before I give my brief list of producers, I must mention that this is a list of more mainstream producers.  This is not a list that contains small local farmers that produce grassfed butter.  We should ideally scour our local farmer’s market and ask some farmers about where to source such a product.  In the meantime here are a couple of producers that seem to produce a fairly high quality product, and as close to grassfed butter as we are likely to find at the grocery store here in Canada.

Organic Meadow: Here is what this company has to say about their organic dairy cows:

“Are your cows pastured?

Organic Meadow is a Co-operative with each of our small family-run farms being independently owned and operated.  What happens on each farm is slightly different, depending on the cow breed, the soil type, the amount of land they have etc.

Being certified organic, they all must abide by the organic rules which include that the cows must eat primarily grass.  Throughout the warm months this is more obvious since they are on pasture between approx. April and November eating what they graze.

When the grass is covered during the snowy winter months, eating only grass is not possible.  What they are also given is alfalfa, peas, oats, soybeans, corn etc.  Our farmers also collect the hay in summer for storage to feed the cows during the winter months.

All of their feed must be 100% certified organic, non GMO and must not contain any animal byproducts.

We like our members to create a complete system on their farms.  What this means is that all of the feed for the cows is produced on farm, and then the manure is properly composted and applied back onto the crops.  This, with proper crop rotation will allow the farm to run sustainably.  The type of grains each producer feed their cows depends on what can be grown in their fields.”

In the end, this sounds pretty darn close to grassfed, and at least it appears that wheat is not used in the feed.

L’Ancetre Organic: Here is what this companies website says about their dairy cows:

“How are the dairy cows treated and what are they fed?

Cows producing organic milk are treated with great respect of their rhythm of life.  Contrary to conventional cows, they have access to pasture, from May to mid-October.  They can graze and get some exercise.   Outside of this period of time, they have access to the outside to get their daily exercise.  So these cows have the chance to go to the pasture getting great grass and to make some exercises (weather allows it).

A daily dose of grass/hay have to be gives to the cows for a minimum of 60% of their food.  They can also get some organic grain like barley, soy, corn, oat and wheat at the condition that this doesn’t exceed 40% of their total fed.  During the Summer the percentage of grass is a lot higher then the minimum of 60% requested because cows are going in the pasture each day.

In the cowshed, a comfortable mattress awaits them and the majority of organic farms provide loose housing, so that the cows are always free.  A soft music plays in the cowshed.”

Again, this looks like another solid product.  They even specify that their cows eat 60% grass, and obviously, that this percentage is much higher in the summer.

Grassfed Butter in Canada – Conclusion

While the above products may not be the perfect 100% grassfed butter, based on what I have learned, I think that when we are not able to purchase Kerrygold butter from the USA, we can be satisfied that our Canadian organic dairy regulations allow for a fairly solid product across the board.  However, we should do our research into the company’s product as I have done above.

Sincerely,

The Barefoot Golfer

16 Comments

  1. Mark Cruden

    THANK YOU for this research! Much appreciated.

    Reply
    1. The Barefoot Golfer
      Twitter: barefootgolfer1
      (Post author)

      Absolutely no problem! I was as much interested in this as many people were. What I have been doing recently is actually opening a small corner of the organic brands at the store and looking for the one with the darkest yellow colour. Basically grass fed butter has a more yellow colour to it due to it’s higher levels of beta carotene. So my thinking is “the darker the yellow, the closer to 100% grass fed”.

      Reply
  2. kornel

    but please forget the organic meadow statement. by no means their cows are eating at least 60 % fresh grass on a daily basis. I have visited 5 organic farms in quebec in 2012, and NONE of them had any replacement animals outside the barn. cows were just behind the barns, and farmers did complain, that their cows don’t want to graze much. so the farmers decide to feed more stored feed to maintain production. consumers, please wake up, visit a farm, ask questions….

    Reply
    1. The Barefoot Golfer
      Twitter: barefootgolfer1
      (Post author)

      Thank you for your comments. Is there any chance that your farm sells grass-fed butter outside of Quebec? If so, what is the brand name?

      Reply
      1. Eric

        Kornel “would” sell his dairy (and products, including butter), under the exclusive banner of “grassfed”, as he is one of the few producers out there who has a 100% grassfed operation but just like regulations regarding the obtaining of such dairy products here in Canada (and/or from abroad), there are even more regulations which make the production, sale and distribution of said products pretty much impossible. For the moment at least…

        The best thing we can do, is every one of us write to our DFO at http://www.milk.org (in Ontario) and tell them what you are looking for, and ask them where you can get it. Once they realize that there is a demand, maybe things will change.

        Reply
  3. Peter Kotsiakos

    Dear Barefoot Golfer:
    My name is Peter and I was wondering if you have found a source in Canada where we can obtain the Irish Kerrygold unsalted grass fed butter, and if so would you be inclined in assisting me in obtaining this brand of butter for therapeutic purposes as
    am afflicted with an inflamatory disease called Ulcerative Collitis and my gastrointestinal specialists who happens to be Irish supports and recommends using tge Kerrygold unpasteurized butter along with unpasteurized grass fed cows milk and or unpasteurized goats and or sheeps milk for my recoperation as the results of 2 surgeries that I have had up to date. I, would kindly ask if you would find it in your heart to help me. I’ve tracked the Kerrygold Irish grass fed butter in many stores in the United States but the stores are reluctant in shipping to Canada.
    I look forward to hearing from you asap when you get a chance to read this message. I’m located in Etobicoke, Ontario which is basically Toronto.
    Regards, Peter Kotsiakos

    Reply
  4. Jennifer

    Hi, I’ve been on the hunt for l’ancetre butter in Vancouver and have tried Organic Meadow, but now am trying Avalon dairy organic butter. Do you have any information on that?

    Reply
    1. The Barefoot Golfer
      Twitter: barefootgolfer1
      (Post author)

      All of the brands you listed are fairly similar in quality, just take a quick peek at the colour of the butter and choose the deepest yellow colour. I have used all of them when I can’t get down to the States to pick up 100% grass-fed butter, such as Kerry Gold or Anchor.

      That being said, here is my new tip. If you live in Vancouver, go to the summer farmer’s markets held each Saturday at various locations around Vancouver and look for The Farm House Natural Cheese booth. If it’s winter time, the market is held only at Nat Bailey stadium. I was there last weekend and they had 100% grass-fed, culture butter, although it was $7 for a regular sized stick! This is the best product I have found in Vancouver yet.

      P.S. Go early to the market as it will sell out. Also, don’t buy it all, save some for me 🙂

      Reply
  5. Ryan

    To all the Canadian fans, we know how much of a pain it is to get top quality grass fed butter here in this country. Like you, I have started doing a bit of research to figure out how it can be done. I came across some promising leads, but one company sealed the deal. 2014 will be the year of grass fed butter in Canada!

    The company is http://www.brookersmeat.com

    I spoke with them and had the following questions officially answered.

    What percentage of the cows diet will be grass fed? (If not 100%, what
    other substances will they be consuming?)
    To my knowledge, 100% grass fed

    Are they fed any GMO substances?
    No

    What will the living environment of the cow be like? (cage, pasture etc):
    Free range, spacious barn environment

    Are the cows raised on any hormones or antibiotics? :
    No

    Estimation of when the butter will be available to consumers?:
    Late April/early May

    Estimation of what the price for your grass fed butter will be?:
    To be determined

    Will the butter be available year round?(frozen etc):
    That is the plan

    Where will the butter be available to purchase from?(stores, directly from
    you etc):
    Direct

    What are your current recommendations for getting the best brand of grass
    fed butter from the USA (kerrygold, other brands etc), even if it means
    having to drive across the border. What brand would you suggest?

    Organic Valley — 99% grass fed
    Kerrygold — Irelance, 20% grains during winter of which 3% of grains fed
    during winter may contain GMO
    Anchor Butter — New Zealand
    Allgau — Germany, 100% grass/hay
    Smjor — Iceland, 100% grass/hay
    Humboldt & Kalona ヨ USA, 20% grains during winter

    Once I do a little more research in the meantime, my plan is to drive across the border to Detroit area and see if I can get my hands on pure grass fed butter.
    Brookers meats has a waiting list of people for grass fed butter, if you’d like to be a part of that list shoot me an email at theliftedmind@gmail.com with your info and I’ll make sure to forward it appropriately.

    Regarding that trip to Detroit in the next couple weeks, if you’re in the southern Ontario region and would like to arrange something, shoot me an email at theliftedmind@gmail.com and we’ll see if we can work something out.
    My name is Ryan and I’m from Stratford Ontario.

    Cheers to my fellow grass fed butter thirsty Canadians!

    Reply
    1. The Barefoot Golfer
      Twitter: barefootgolfer1
      (Post author)

      Excellent info. I will keep my eye out on their website, and hopefully they deliver to BC, Canada. Also, Organic Valley butter is quite nice, I purchased some one my last trip down to the states. Their butter is also cultured.

      Reply
  6. Buttercup!

    Hi All,

    I read with much interest the subject of achieving the regular purchase of grass-fed butter. I used to make my own from my raw milk supplier, but that has ground to a halt just now! Sadly…… My local Loblaws sells Kiwi-Pure, which I purchased this morning. It is nice, but already it is slightly soured, (found to be upon purchase and tasting). I don’t mind this sourness taste, but wonder how long it has been sitting in the stores of the supermarket! The butter cost me $9.00 (ouch)! Stirling Butter, which I used to buy from my local grass-fed Butcher’s store was double the amount for $6.00. Sadly Stirling is in short supply of cream right now and therefore not available in most of the stores I visit.

    Sooooo……… I am having to look further afield and stress to my local stores that we need more grass-fed butters in supply, which will bring down the horrendous prices, (although I would rather pay this than have none).

    Any luck with other suppliers so far. I am on the Quebec side, in Cantley where it naturally favours the regular mass produced brand names that I do not eat.

    It is sure good to know that there are likeminded people out there! I hate the main brands band-waggoning and finding some way of labelling as Grass-Fed in order to sell more of their products.

    I see how we now have Grass-Fed Milk in our supermarkets! It is still pasteurized, therefore in my estimation, spoiled! Never have I drunk such pure nectar as the Raw Jersey Milk that I was buying from my farmer. My husband and I, (well I dragged him in to be honest) began drinking this milk in 2013 and did not look back. I studied the benefits of raw milk and decided to drink place myself on a milk eating routine for 8 weeks. Nothing else……. a story for another day maybe.

    Happy butter hunting all.

    Reply
    1. The Barefoot Golfer
      Twitter: barefootgolfer1
      (Post author)

      Always hunting 🙂 Kiwi Pure and Rolling Meadow are the brands I can find most frequently these days (although I think they are the same company) and yes they are not cheap. Aside from those 2, hit your local farmer’s market and ask around. Here in BC there are 2 producers of grass fed butter/cheese that sell at the farmers markets only.

      Reply
  7. RAYMOND B

    I am in a predicament. I would LOVE TO tell everyone in Canada where I accidentally stumbled upon grass fed butter from New Zealand, but you said that Canadian Agricultural laws make it hardfor Canadians to acquire it. I paid $7.49 CAD for ANCHOR PURE NEW ZEALAND BUTTER.

    I stumbled upon this goldmine accidentally when I was shopping for something else entirely.

    Please send me your email address so you can direct me on what to do.

    I want the Canadian public to know about this without future negative repercussions.

    Oh…I live in the suburbs bordering The GTA in Toronto, Ontario..

    Reply
    1. The Barefoot Golfer
      Twitter: barefootgolfer1
      (Post author)

      Hi Raymond, there are now a couple brands selling grass fed butter in Canada from NZ. They seem to be sold and labelled by Canadian companies but I am not exactly sure how they get around the dairy laws. It has been a while since I wrote the article so some things may have changed.

      Reply
    2. Shaolin

      hi can you share where you found this NZ grass fed butter?

      Reply
  8. david

    NZ grassfed is popping up in some places now. it’s not cheap.
    http://www.rollingmeadowdairy.com/locations/

    Reply

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