Monday, March 22, 2010

'Black or Brown' A1/A2 Cow Milk Controversy

Yes, there IS a controversy over milk from black cows versus milk from brown cows, but actually it's the A1 milk vs the A2 milk. Color matters.


For several years now scientific testing of milk has been turning up some interesting facts that vary the healthfulness of milk from certain cows. Milk contains casein, which is a protein... more specifically, beta-casein. Beta casein contains an amino acid called BCM-7, a powerful opiate linked to negative health effects such as Type 1 Diabetes, heart disease, neurological impairment including autistic and schizophrenic changes and auto-immune disease.

Beta casein from older breeds of cows (like the brown & white Jersey and Guernsey cows) contains an amino acid called
proline. (There will not be a test, so don't worry!) These cows typically produce A2 milk where the proline bonds to the BCM-7, which keeps it OUT of the milk.

In newer breeds of cows like the black & white Holstein cows, the amino acid proline has mutated to one named
histadine. Histadine does not bond to BCM-7, so BCM-7 gets INTO the milk; that's called A1 milk and it is typically produced by Holsteins.

Why haven't we heard any of this?
It's Easy. Follow the Money... The predominant cow for dairy products in the US is the Holstein cow. No one outside the dairy industry has any interest in paying for milk research, and the dairy industry likely won't pay for the research because it would be financially devastating regarding their herds.

Nonetheless, I understand many American and Canadian breeders are routinely testing herds for A2 genetics and breeding accordingly. There is still much research needed in order to be fully conclusive about A1 or A2 milk and disease.

I'd also like to see some
conclusive evidence that grain-fed, pasteurized CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) milk is dangerous. Let us drink healthy raw milk if we so choose!

Because dead milk is dead milk, whether the cow is brown or black, I'll just find someone who sells raw milk from a brown cow and buy half the cow.

For more information: The Bovine; Real Milk.


  1. Hi. Followed you here from the Cheese Forum. A bit south of you in Eastern TN. I've read some about this "controversy". The idea that Holsteins are a "new" breed is just false. They were used for centuries in Holland. I will agree that they are commercially important and that may be the crux of the argument and that being the case, it may be more a feeding issue over many rapidly produced generations that have caused the change. As you note, there's not much research being done.

  2. Thanks Kristin. I suspect the commercial aspect will hold down any research.

    My own personal knowledge of (and relationship with) cows is from a car window, so I can only go by what I read on and in-between the lines.

    Your solar farm looks fascinating. Maybe I can come and visit? I visit friends in Andrews and Hiawassee.

  3. Hi. I´m an old farmer from Sweden. I have been milking Holsteins and some other breeds too..
    Since 1990 i heve been a bredder of the old Scandinavian Mountain Cattle.
    With DNA-tests it´s found that the breed is almost the same as the Icelandic Cow wich people from Norway had when they emigrated to Iceland for 800 years ago...
    In Norway the breed i called STN and on their webpage you will find DNA-maps.

    When the vikings emigrated to France 1000 years ago they bring their cattle whith them.
    They stopped in Normandie and started farming their.
    It was a sailing people som the ilands around became nordic in culture and the cattle nordic.
    You will find that the names on the ilands are typical nordic. Jersey, Geurnsey, and so on...

    But we in the north don´t understand this beacuse its a kind of nationalism and that is not acceplable policy..
    Some farmers that making cheese from Mountain cattle-milk get 1 kilo cheese of 6 kilo milk, compared wiht Holstein 11 kilo to 1 kilo cheese.
    the A1/A2 is mostly 50/50 but some bulls are K-casein BB, beta-lactoglobulin BB and Beta-casein A2A2!
    There is exported semen to Argentine and You can find figures at a webpage by elisabeth Avendano who is the importer.

    1. That's very interesting, Mr. Gunnarson. Thanks!

  4. And there is more of milkdrinking i southern Sweden.
    there is an ability to be able to drink fresch milk without stomachproblem in southern Sweden.
    As a kind of nothern massajs...
    There is even evidens of the same culture as the african massajs. they have found about thre tousand years old pottery with traces of food....
    a mix of blood and milk...
    A genetic acceptans for milkdrinking has evolved in different ways in diffent places, and in the central parts of the old 6000 years agriculture of Sweden between the lakes Vanern and Vattern we find the highest freqensy of this gene in people...
    But the last hundred years we got Holsteins insted our old kind of cattle and the diabetesproblem increesed...
    I don´t know how to chainge this....
    Hope You understand me?! I only wright without checking my words...

  5. Yes, I understand you just fine. My step-father was born in Holland. He had a heavy accent and was only just okay with English since it was not his native language.

    I agree on the holsteins, which account for more than 95% of the milk in the US.


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