Certified Grassfed by AGW Standards
The Certified Grassfed by AGW (CG) standards are an optional addition to the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW (AWA) beef and dairy cattle, meat and dairy sheep, and meat and dairy goat standards. These standards do not stand alone and cannot be applied in isolation. In order for animals to be approved as Certified Grassfed by AGW they must also be approved under the AWA species specific standards. All animals slaughtered and marketed under the CG programme in South Africa must be processed in accordance with South Africa’s Meat Safety Act, and comply with all applicable regulations regarding slaughter, processing and traceability.
For information on animal management, health care, pasture management, housing and shelter, transport and other requirements please see AWA standards for beef, dairy cattle, sheep, dairy sheep, goats and dairy goats which may be found at on AGW’s website.
NOTE: If a farm receives a non-compliance for AWA standard 4.0.4, their CG status may be revoked.
AWA standard 4.0.4 is as follows: Animals must be maintained at body condition score 4 or above on a 1-9 scale or body condition score 2 or above on a 1-5 scale.
G17.0 Feeding Grassfed Animals
Note: If grain or other products prohibited under the CG Standards have been fed in order to maintain the health and welfare of some animals within the AWA Grassfed herd or flock; it may be possible to maintain CG status on other, fully grassfed animals in the herd or flock, providing the following conditions are met:
- The farm is open about the fact that some animals have been fed non-forage feed – i.e. it is not something the auditor discovers at audit.
- Records of the animals fed the non-forage feed are maintained
- The animals fed non-forage feeds can be clearly identified (this may be by identification mark, numbered tag etc. or it could be by managing the animals in separate areas of the farm)
- No animals or products from the animals fed non-forage feeds are marketed as CG
- AGW is provided with details of the number of animals that are not compliant with the CG standards (this can be recorded at audit).
G17.0.1 With the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning the diet of grassfed animals must solely be derived from grass and forage throughout their lives.
Note: Forage is defined as any edible herbaceous plant material that can be grazed or harvested for feeding, with the exception of grain.
Forage-based diets can be derived from grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g. legumes, Brassica), and browse.
G17.0.2 Animals cannot be fed grain, grain by-products or any other form of feed concentrate.
G17.0.3 The following feedstuffs are specifically prohibited:
- Dry harvested legumes (pea, bean, lupin).
- Grain residue or by-products including distillers grains.
- Sprouted grains.
Note: A lack of a specific prohibition for any feed or supplement within these standards does not imply that their use is permitted.
Farms in situations of drought or other emergencies may apply for a derogation to feed sprouted grains (sometimes known as “fodder”) but only to a maximum of 25% of daily dry matter intake. Derogation must be requested and accepted prior to using sprouted grains as a feed.
G17.0.4 Supplementary hay, haylage, baleage, silage, crop residue (straw) without grain and other sources of natural roughage must never be used to replace good animal and pasture management.
Note: The intent of the grassfed standards is that during the growing season both livestock stocking density and pasture management ensure that nutritional needs of the animals are met by grazing.
G17.0.5 Grazing cereal crop residues after harvest for grain is prohibited.
Note: Consumption of seeds naturally attached to herbage, forage and browse is considered incidental and acceptable. Grazing vegetative re-growth of harvested grain fields is permitted if 75% of the field is covered by vegetative re-growth and the average height of the re-growth is at least eight inches high
G17.0.6 Mineral and vitamin supplements must not include any prohibited ingredients from these standards or the AWA species specific standards.
Note: Examples of prohibited ingredients under the AWA standards include animal by-products, fishmeal, sub-therapeutic antibiotics and organophosphates.
G17.0.7 Supplements must not include urea.
G17.0.8 Molasses may only be used as a carrier for mineral and/or vitamin supplements.
Note: This standard prohibits other use of molasses; for example adding liquid molasses to hay to increase energy intakes.
G17.0.9 If inadvertent exposure to non-forage feedstuff occurs, the incident must be recorded.
G17.0.10 Records of any non-forage supplement must be maintained along with identification for the animals that consumed them.
G17.0.11 Meat from animals fed non-forage feedstuffs may not be sold under the AWA Grassfed label.
G17.1 Pasture access for Grassfed Animals
G17.1.1 Recommended Stocking rates and pasture management should encourage plant biodiversity.
G17.2 Source and records for Grassfed animals
G17.2.1 Grassfed store or feeder stock must be sourced from other CG farms and have been managed to grassfed standards from birth.
Note: Animals sourced from other AWA farms that do not hold grassfed approval cannot be sold under the CG label even if the purchasing farm holds this approval.
G17.2.2 Grassfed animals must be traceable throughout their entire lives from birth to slaughter.
G17.2.3 Records must be maintained that identify all animals purchased, sold or slaughtered as part of the AWA grassfed program.
G17.3 Additional standards for Grassfed Cow Dairy farms.
Note: These additional standards are applicable to cow dairies only and are not required for sheep dairies and goat dairies.
G17.3.1 Farms that wish to become certified grassfed for cow dairies must have had their animals certified by AWA for at least one audit cycle before being eligible to become CG.
G17.3.2 Farms that wish to become certified grassfed for cow dairies must have been practicing 100% grassfed feeding for at least one year before being eligible to become Certified Grassfed by AGW.
G17.3.3 Grassfed cow dairies must carry out forage testing for each cut of hay, haylage, silage or baleage whether this is home produced or bought-in.
G17.3.4 Forage test results must be used to ensure the diet is balanced for the animals in the herd.
Note: For example, forage test results can be used to target the best quality forages to the highest yielding cows and/or to mix forages to ensure cows have consistent quality in their feed throughout the winter.
G17.4 Rearing Dairy Calves
G17.4.1 Dairy calves must be fed at least 1 gallon (4 litres) of milk per calf per day for the first eight weeks of life.
G17.4.2 Dairy calves must be fed at least 0.5 gallons (2 litres) of milk per calf per day from eight weeks to 12 weeks of age.
G17.4.3 Recommended Dairy calves should be fed at least 0.25 gallons (1litre) of milk per calf per day from 12 weeks to 14 weeks of age.
G17.4.4 Recommended Dairy calves should be reared by their mothers or foster mothers until they are at least six weeks old.
G17.4.5 Recommended Dairy calves should be fed whole cows milk – not milk replacer – until they are at least six weeks old.
G17.4.6 High quality forages must be provided when dairy calves are weaned from milk.
17.5 Land Management
17.5.1 Certified farms must not clear primary or old growth secondary forests for conversion to agricultural land.
Note: Primary forests are forests of native tree species, where there are no clearly visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed. An example of primary forest would be South American rainforest. Old growth forests are those that have been in existence for at least 120 years without experiencing major disturbance from fires, wind storms or logging.
17.5.2 Any land that has been converted from primary or old growth secondary forest in the last 15 years must not be used for certified production.
Note: This standard applies whether the certified farmer or a current or previous land owner/manager cleared the land in the last 15 years. The definition of “used for certified production” means that certified animals cannot graze this land and forage that will be offered to certified animals cannot be grown on this land.
Note: Exception will be granted where it can be demonstrated that clear cutting is a recognised sustainable practice.
G17.6 Slaughter Facilities
G17.6.1 Livestock certified to the CG Programme must only be slaughtered and processed at facilities that have a valid Certificate of Registration demonstrating compliance with the Meat Safety Act, 2000 (Act 40 of 2000). This will be verified by the auditor at the inspection of the abattoir.