Testing, Testing….for A2 Milk

November 3rd, 2010 by Kim

Eavie (A1/A2) contentedly munching & milking.

Our A2 results are in!  For those of you who haven’t heard yet, UC Davis now has A2 testing up & running.  Yeah!!!  It’s quite easy.  You go on their website, https://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/myvgl/login.html,create an account & enter info on the animals you want tested.  Then you print out your test forms, attach hair samples & mail them in.  Results are emailed to you in a very timely fashion.  Cost is quite reasonable, too.

Noel (A2/A2) finally looks like she might actually be bred.

If some of you are wondering what all the fuss is about A2 milk, you can learn more in Jeff’s article in our Dec. 2009 archive.  The other milk protein, A1, is being found to be associated with some pretty serious human health problems.  And some people with digestive issues caused by “normal” milk are also finding that A2 milk, especially raw A2 milk, does just fine in their system.  So the news that we now have testing available in the US is very good news indeed.

Keira (A2/A2) nicely filled out & bred back to Rousseau after her round with hydramnios.

Several breeds, like the Guernsey & Jersey, are being identified as primarily A2 beta-casein producers.  Of the Dexters that have been tested, my understanding is that many are A2 positive, either heterozygous or homozygous.  It would be nice to have A2 results on a broad spectrum of Dexters, so we could know what percentage of A2 milk producers we’ve got as a breed.  So I highly recommend, if you haven’t done so yet, that you please get your Dexters tested for A2 beta-casein.  Then leave us a comment to let us know what your results are.

BoPeep (A1/A2) my tall Belfair girl, enjoying breakfast in the parlor.

Our main bull, Rousseau, had been tested previous to us buying him.  He is homozygous A2.  We just tested all four of our cows.  Eavie is heterozygous – A1/A2.  Both Keira & Noel tested homozygous – A2/A2.  And BoPeep, my Dexter/Jersey cross, is also A1/A2.  So, unfortunately, my two best milkers produce part A1.  But by breeding with Rousseau, we can breed for homozygous A2 cows for the future.  Mace is off-farm right now providing live cover service for a nice little family cow, so we won’t be able to test him until he comes home.

We enjoy the milk we get from our Dexter milk cows.  Dexter milk has some good things going for it.  The milk that Dexters produce has smaller fat globules than other breeds, and therefore, is more easily digested (some peole say it’s “naturally homogenized”, but that’s not true).  And although some people really love that yellow Jersey cream, it’s yellow color is due to the inefficient conversion of beta-carotene into retinol, or vitamin A.  Our bodies need the entire vitamin A complex, not just beta-carotene, so really, the nice white Dexter milk is better nutritionally for us.  If we can add to that proof that Dexters, as a breed, produce primarily A2 milk, we’ll really have something to brag about!  So, Dexter owners, get out there & pull some tails!

My homozygous A2 crowd: Keira, Rousseau, and Noel, with horsey friends.

5 Responses to “Testing, Testing….for A2 Milk”

  1. Evelyn Says:

    I’m planning on pulling tail hairs on most of our 28 cattle, when I get back to the farm in a couple weeks. it’s not gonna be a fun time! I’ve tried to get hairs out of the bull, out in the pasture, but he’s not into it. We’ll be testing for genotype, PHA, A1 v. A2. I’m hoping for a result as good as yours!

  2. Susan Lea Says:

    Isn’t Keira Sara’s daughter? So would that mean she got one A2 gene from Sara and one from her sire? Hope you got my email that Sara’s calf was born this evening about 6 pm, a cute little black bull. We’re just going to call him T-Bone, but it’s too late not to get attached! He’s SO adorable! I’m putting pictures on Facebook right now & will get some on my blog tomorrow. We didn’t get Sara up into the round pen any too soon!

  3. Donna Says:

    I just got partial results on some milk samples. I’ve been trying to get this done for a whole year, so I’m very excited. At first I thought I could to get someone to AK test (“muscle test”) for milk samples from different cows. Then I realized that there are electrodermal screening devices that can do lots of samples very quickly. They act rather like lie detectors to check for stress. My idea was to get entire herds tested so that farmers would know what they had to work with. $2,500 for a hundred cows is just way too expensive for the avg dairy farmer. I called around looking for EDS devices, and the most cooperative owner-operators all had machines by that crazy guy Nelson, the EXFP, the QXCI, and the SCIO. (He may be crazy but his machines can do amazing things, I have seen them in action.) They all assured me that it was no problem for their machines to distinguish between a “good” sample and a “bad” sample, provided that we had an “allergic” person in the circuit. Most charge about $150 for a 90 min session, but I found someone who charged only $40. She said that she would have to program the samples into the computer, and that took about 3 min each, but she doesn’t have to sit there with them while it’s happening, so she could do them at her leisure while she did paperwork. What I didn’t realise was that once in the machine, that every person she tested would automatically be tested not just for the 10,000 things stored in the computer, but also for those 25 individual cows. So even though her few December clients haven’t included anyone who redflagged for her standard cow milk sample, she was surprised to see that 4 cows have redflagged for these supposedly non allergic people. I figure they have a little bit of a problem with milk, not enough for the 50% mutated beta-casein in the standard sample to send the stress level high enough for the machine to flag it. But 4 cows must be homozygous for A1, which would be EXACTLY chance for 25 Jerseys. When she does get in someone who responds to the standard milk sample, another 12 cows in the sample should redflag for those people, leaving 9 A2A2 cows that don’t redflag for anyone unless they are just plain allergic to cows.
    If you want to try it, find someone with one of these machines who knows how to program in a sample from outside the machine. Offer them $10 apeice to put in sample(s) and let you know results. If you are looking at a cow to buy, they should be able to tell you pretty quick if they have someone handy in their office who reacts badly to dairy. If you want a whole herd done, negotiate a price. I had originally agreed on 20 samples, which would be $2 per cow, but we added a few more so this is costing $1.60 per cow. The machine is objective, the operator shouldn’t be able to influence it, but of course I didn’t let her know that I had a pretty good idea of what ratios we should see.
    Be sure to heat your milk sample to try to break the BCM7 peptide loose for maximum toxicity in testing. As the Jersey farmer said, you are really looking for the samples with beta-casein that you CAN’T break apart no matter what you do to them. Put your vial or jar in hot water and hold it between 145 to 170F for 15-20 minutes. If you have to guess at the temp, that’s probably ok. 2 of our samples had leaked out in the mail, but I said to load them anyway because BCM7 is very sticky, it sticks even to glass containers. We might not get a good quantitative test of those samples, but at least we can test for the presence of BCM7. So don’t heat your milk sample in a pan and then pour it into a jar. Donna, Tennessee

  4. Dalene Says:

    If a cows tests as: A1/A2, is the milk half A1 and half A2? Or could it be one or the other since the cow has both genes?

  5. Kim Says:

    Hi Dalene,

    From what I understand, an A1/A2 cow will produce milk with a mixture of both proteins in it. It won’t necessarily be an equal 50/50 mix, but can be more of either one…and nobody’s really sure how or why it works that way.