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When I bought my first jersey cow, Gigi, I had no idea what A2-A2 milk was. My Mom grew up milking my Grandma’s Jerseys, so that is the breed I wanted to raise. Before I had my own milk cow, my Mom would buy local raw milk, so we knew the benefits of drinking raw milk, but still had no idea about the A2 or A1 genes.
It wasn’t until 2012 that a friend sent me an article on a book called, The Devil in the Milk by David Williams. Williams details the difference between the A1 and A2 genes found in milk, and the health problems connected to the A1 gene including Type 1 Diabetes, heart disease, and autism. Yikes! I knew I needed to find out what my milk cow was.
I decided to have my cow tested through U.C. Davis’ Veterinary Genetics Laboratories. I collected Gigi’s tail hairs as instructed and sent in the samples. The turnaround time was really quick and they sent my results via email. She was A2A2!
Since then, I have always used A2-A2 Jersey bulls to breed her, and my last cow I purchased, Mabel, I bought from a 3rd generation Jersey dairy that breeds specifically for the A2-A2 gene. I will be purchasing a new Jersey milk cow from them again this year, after losing my sweet Mabel suddenly a year ago.
So, what is A2A2?
A2-A2 milk carries the A2 type of β-casein. Most commercially available milk contains both the A2 and A1 protein. I know from my own personal experience that my body does so much better on raw A2-A2 milk than milk purchased from the grocery store.
The A2-A2 gene is the oldest casein protein and can be found primarily in the heritage breeds. The A1 gene was a mutation that eventually became widely spread among dairy breeds, and is predominantly found in Holsteins.
I’m no scientist or genetics guru, so I’ll quote the experts on this one. The California Dairy Research Foundation explains A2-A2 this way:
- Two major protein groups are present in cow’s milk – approximately 82 percent of protein is casein and approximately 18 percent is whey protein. Both groups have excellent nutritional benefits.
- Caseins are a group of proteins. Among the caseins, beta casein is the second most abundant protein (about one-third of the caseins) and has an excellent nutritional balance of amino acids.
- The beta casein group has two common variants: A1 and A2 beta casein. Most milk contains a mixture of these proteins. Approximately 60 percent of the beta casein is A2, and 40 percent is A1.
- The proportion of A2 and A1 beta casein in milk can vary with different breeds of dairy cattle – A2 milk contains only A2 beta casein.
A2-A2 Milk & Health
Human breastmilk is A2-A2. I didn’t know this until I read a recent article from Azure Standard…or maybe I knew that once and forgot, which is quite possible. My husband has a mind like a steel trap. I have a mind like a strainer.
I began to research the components of breastmilk on my own, and found it is true. The A2-A2 Company has a great article about the components of breastmilk. It makes perfect sense that cow milk with the same β-casein gene as a human’s would be more beneficial than would the mutated A1 gene.
Since our bodies can easily use the A2-A2 milk, it’s said to be beneficial to those who suffer from dairy sensitivities. Some who have lactos-intolerance symptoms may find they can drink A2-A2 milk just fine!
What breeds are A2A2?
The A2-A2 gene is found predominantly in heritage cow breeds, such as Jersey, Guernsey, Brown Swiss and Normande. But even among these breeds, the A1 gene is still found. Holstein cows can carry the A2-A2 gene, but its not as common. I prefer my beautiful Jersey girls. Their sweet big doe eyes and smaller frame make Jerseys the perfect fit for me.
Where to buy A2-A2 milk?
A2-A2 milk is growing in popularity and can be found on more and more store shelves. Azure Standard now carries a new line of A2-A2 milk from Alexandre Family Farms. You can also search for A2-A2 milk locally. Small dairies or families with just a few milk cows often sell raw milk privately (Some states prohibit the sale of raw milk, so be sure to check your state’s regulations!)
How to find an A2-A2 cow?
So you’ve decided you want to go the A2-A2 route, but how do you find a cow with those genetics? Thankfully, A2-A2 is becoming more popular all the time. The A2-A2 Company out of Australia has really helped this movement spread worldwide. More Dairies are breeding specifically for the A2-A2 beta-casein gene, so it is getting easier to find them!
You can do a google search for A2-A2 dairies in your area. Often, dairies have cows or heifers that they may not have listed anywhere, but wouldn’t mind selling as a family cow. There are even Facebook groups specifically for buying/selling A2-A2 milk cows.
When I was looking for a new A2-A2 Jersey a couple years ago, I used the JerseyDirectory.com and found Mabel’s breeder there!
You can check out my guide to buying a family milk cow here! And don’t forget to print off the free checklist that goes along with it!
Hopefully you found this helpful, and I’ve convinced you that A2-A2 milk is superior! But keep doing your own research and find what works best for you and your body.
Thank you! I’ve been wondering about getting our little calf tested! This was so helpful!
Wonderful! I’m glad it was helpful!