You have heard me talk about A2A2 milk. Some of you may not know what that means. You may wonder if it really matters to you and your family. I’m going to fill you in on some of that information today.
First let me say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to you veteran homestead loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast every week. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on at the farm this week, a little bit about A2A2 milk and a great and tasty recipe. Let’s just jump right in.
- Homestead Life Updates
- What is A2A2 Milk?
- Ice Cream Base Recipe – with downloadable document with flavoring ideas
Homestead Life Updates
The cows are doing great. We have a new calf and the last one for a while. There is likely one more, but that cow is way behind the others. In fact, we are getting ready to breed some of them again in a few weeks. Cloud will deliver so late that she likely will not get bred back this year.
We are selling all of our bulls. We have six. Yes six. There is 2-year-old Sam. He is 95% Normande genetics and the sire of this year’s crop of calves. Then we have 1-year-old Ray’s Rocket – mostly we call him Rocket Man. Lastly is the group of newlings born this year. All four are for sale. Some are currently being negotiated for but I’ll put a link in the show notes to the Facebook page where all of their information can be found. If you are looking to improve the genetics of your herd, this is the bull for you.
Lambert is so fat right now. He will be receiving his bottle twice daily until nearly all of the milk replacer is gone. Then I will switch him to once a day for a week or maybe two before weaning him completely off.
If you want to get a whole or half lamb, speak up now. It will be months yet before these are ready for your freezer. We have one lamb and/or 2 half lambs currently available. A whole lamb yields 30 to 35 pounds, sometimes more of meat. Half lambs, half that. You can see the cuts that come on a whole or half lamb on our website. www.peacefulheartfarm.com/shop/lamb-package.
Orchard and Garden
There is always so much going on around here that a lot of stuff gets pushed back. Thinks like birthing, gathering and storing milk, making cheese, taking care of animals all have the highest priority. The garden and the orchard, not so much. My garden is still overrun with weeds, though I was able to dig out my carrots and surprisingly there are lots that beat the grass. Watering the garden does have a priority or it would all simply die. Other stuff slows down or stunts growth. The bottom line is we will still get a crop, but perhaps not as large as if we had gotten the weeds out and fertilized more often.
The peas are just such a crop. They are producing like mad and I will be picking them within the week, I think. Then they will have to be processed in some way. I’m scaring myself with all of that. There are just not enough hours in the week.
I still don’t even have everything planted. The green beans need to be put in the ground. The peanuts need to be replanted; I have no idea why not a single one sprouted. And the eggplant is going to wither away to nothing if I don’t get it out there in the garden.
Everything needs to be weeded. Everything needs to be fertilized.
Scott is diligently digging out the orchard from the waist high grass. It would be great if we could graze some of the animals in there, but they all eat the trees. We are still investigating how to get the sheep in their without having them raise up on their back legs as high as they can and eating all of the leaves off the branches they can reach. The goats are a complete disaster anywhere near the orchard or the berries. They will eat the bark off of the trees, killing them. And because they like to eat woody stemmed plants, they will decimate blackberry vines and blueberry bushes. No, we don’t want them anywhere near the orchard.
On the upside, they did a really great job of clearing out the wild blackberries on the island in the big pond. It is now quite pleasant to sit out there and enjoy being surrounded by water and nature.
We are newbies with the quail. It is unbelievable how quickly those quail grew. They outgrew their brooder box a good week before we had planned. Outside they went as we were having a warm spell. There were a couple of cool nights but these are wild birds and they faired very well. They are only barely over 2 weeks old and are fully feathered. The tiny birds that were barely the size of a gold ball are now the size of a baseball – perhaps even a softball. It’s amazing. They will begin laying eggs in as little as six weeks from now. Yum, yum, we look forward to it.
Four eggs are required to equal one chicken egg. Our plan is to have about 30 laying hens and 6 roosters for breeding. We will need to continually hatch out new ones as their lives are actually quite short and they only lay for a year or two.
The creamery – ah the creamery. So much still to do there and Scott has so little time to do it. We really need that building completed. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are priorities. First the animals, then the perishable milk and cheese, then the garden and orchard. The creamery, as an inanimate object comes in last place. There are even maintenance projects that take precedence. Fences, driveways, pathways, other infrastructure – all has to be kept up to ensure the safety of our animals.
It’s a lot but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We work long hours every day – very long hours every day. Alarm goes off at 6:00 am and though 10:00 pm is bedtime, more often it is 11 or 11:30 before that happens. And every bit of it is worth it. There is never any lack of meaning in our lives. Boredom is something very distant in the past. The constant attention to the next task makes us know that we are alive in God’s wonderful creation.
One thing that evolved through nature is the composition of milk in cows. Recently, some of the genetic content and protein structure of milk has changed.
What is A2A2 Milk?
There is a great deal of scientific gobbledygook about the proteins and how they are broken down or not. I’ll try to keep this layman friendly and skip most of the mumbo-jumbo lingo. By the way, did you know that gobbledygook is an actual word that my spell-checker knew? Who knew? Well, my spellchecker knew.
A2 milk is cow’s milk that mostly lacks a form of beta-casein proteins called A1 and instead has mostly the A2 form.
A1 and A2 beta-casein are genetic variants of the beta-casein milk protein that differ by one amino acid. Casein is a family of related phosphoproteins. These proteins are commonly found in the milk of mammals, comprising about 80% of the proteins in cow’s milk and between 20% and 45% of the proteins in human milk. Sheep and buffalo milk have a higher casein content than other types of milk with human milk having a particularly low casein content. Casein has a wide variety of uses one of which is being a major component of cheese. We respect our casein.
A genetic test, developed by the a2 Milk Company, determines whether a cow produces A2 or A1 type protein in its milk. The test allows the company to certify milk producers as producing milk that does not metabolize to beta-casomorphin which is an opioid peptide or protein fragment derived from the digestion of the milk protein casein.
I know, I’m getting too scientific with the lingo there. All that means is that the chemical composition of A2A2 milk may benefit our health because it is digested without inflammation that might arise from BCM-7 produced by A1 beta-casein. Consequently, A1 proteins may be detrimental to our health. That causes great push back from the gigantic dairy industry as A2A2 genetics is rare in Europe (except France) and the US. That would really disrupt their operation if their milk was found to be harmful – while others had milk that was beneficial.
As with so many health-related topics, the science is divided on whether or not there is reason for concern regarding the A1 protein in milk – whether there are adverse health effects from its consumption. Personally, I’m erring on the side of caution, as I do with so many other foods. I’ll go with tradition as opposed to modern fads in nutrition. We are breeding our cows for the A2A2 genetic conformation.
And when I say modern fads in nutrition, I mean everything that came pouring out of the 20th century and that continues to pour out in the 21st century. I’m talking about three square meals a day, the food pyramid, and the modified food pyramid. I’m talking about low fat diets, vegan and vegetarian diets, the Mediterranean diet, the South Beach diet and so on. All of these so-called nutrition experts are literally experimenting with our health as human beings. We evolved over thousands and thousands and thousands of years eating locally grown food, whatever it was. Historically, in the tropics the diet was heavy in fruits, nuts and greens, in Alaska fat predominated. In other regions protein was the main source of dietary sustenance. You must find what works for you.
Which brings me back to A2A2 milk.
In the 1980s, some medical researchers began to explore whether some peptides (including peptides from casein) that are created during digestion might have negative or positive health effects.
Interest in the distinction between A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins in milk began in the early 1990s via epidemiological research and animal studies initially conducted by scientists in New Zealand. The scientists found correlations between the prevalence of milk with A1 beta-casein proteins in some countries and the prevalence of various chronic diseases. The research generated interest in the media, as well as among the scientific community and entrepreneurs. If it were indeed true that BCM-7 created by A1 beta-casein is harming humans, this would be an important public health issue.
Scientists believe the difference in genetics originated as a mutation that occurred between 5000 and 10,000 years ago—as cattle were being taken north into Europe with the mutation subsequently spreading widely throughout herds in the Western world through breeding.
The percentage of the A1 and A2 beta-casein protein varies between herds of cattle, and also between countries and provinces. While African and Asian cattle continue to produce only A2 beta-casein, the A1 version of the protein is common among cattle in the western world. The A1 beta-casein type is the most common type found in cow’s milk in Europe (excluding France where our Normandes with predominantly A2A2 genetics originate). It is also the most common type found in cow’s milk in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Let’s talk about the possible health benefits.
Symptoms of stomach discomfort, such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea that occur after consuming dairy products, are typically attributed to lactose intolerance. However, some researchers believe that it is BCM-7, not lactose, that affects digestion and produces symptoms similar to lactose intolerance, in some people.
A study on Chinese adults with self-reported milk intolerance compared the effects of drinking regular milk that contained A1 and A2 proteins with A2-only milk on intestinal function, stomach discomfort, and inflammation.
The participants consumed 8 oz of milk twice a day for 2 weeks. They reported worse stomach pain after they consumed the regular milk but no change in symptoms after they drank the A2 milk.
Participants also reported more frequent and looser-consistency stools while they drank the regular milk. These symptoms did not occur after they consumed the A2 milk.
So, what MIGHT be happening on the other side of the coin?
Potentially Harmful Effects of non A2A2 Milk
Notice the words “might and “potentially” there. I’m not making any claims here. Some of the effects can include:
In the same study mentioned above, researchers also looked at markers of inflammation in the blood. They found the participants had higher levels of inflammatory markers after they drank the regular milk.
The research showed that milk could impact brain function. Study participants took longer to process information and made more errors on a test after drinking regular milk compared to A2 milk.
Type 1 diabetes
The potential risks associated with milk containing A1 proteins include an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Some studies have shown that children who drink cow’s milk protein at an earlier age than others have a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes. However, other studies have not shown the same association.
The research also suggests that the amount of milk a child consumes could influence their risk of developing type 1 diabetes, with higher milk consumption observed in children who develop the condition.
At least one study showed a link between the consumption of A1 protein and incidence of type 1 diabetes, although this kind of study fails to prove that it is a direct cause.
Some animal studies have shown associations between cow’s milk consumption and a higher incidence of type 1 diabetes. One study in mice found that 47 percent of the mice that had A1 protein added to their diet developed diabetes, while none that had A2 protein added did so.
However, other research does not support the hypothesis that there is any association between milk consumption and a higher incidence of type 1 diabetes. There are links in the show notes for both sides of this discussion. Debate about the potential health effects of A1 and A2 milk is ongoing.
Research suggests that A1 beta-casein causes adverse digestive symptoms in certain individuals. But the evidence is still too weak for any solid conclusions to be made about the supposed links between A1 beta-casein and other conditions, such as type 1 diabetes and autism.
That said, A2 milk could be worth a try if you struggle to digest regular milk.
There you have it. The basics to the why of A2A2 milk. I’ll let you decide. Again, we like to err on the side of caution. We have two A2A2 certified cows and will be testing the rest of the herd as we move forward with our dairy operation. Go to the show notes for the links to the research I referenced.
Speaking of milk, how about an ice cream recipe for your A2A2 milk and cream.
Ice Cream Base Recipe (Download Flavorings)
When it’s warm outside, a cold refreshing dish of ice cream can really hit the spot. This is a basic ice cream recipe that can be used as a base for many different flavors. I’ve included a download link to the flavorings.
This silky, luscious and very classic custard can be used as the base for any ice cream flavor you can dream up. These particular proportions of milk and cream to egg yolk will give you a thick but not sticky ice cream that feels decadent but not heavy. For something a little lighter, use more milk and less cream, as long as the dairy adds up to 3 cups. You can also cut down on egg yolks for a thinner base, but don’t go below three.
Time: 20 minutes plus several hours’ cooling, chilling and freezing
Yield: about 1 ½ pints
What You Need
- 2cups heavy cream
- 1cup whole milk
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- Your choice of flavoring (download here)
What To Do
- In a small pot, simmer cream, milk, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed.
I hope your days are filled with as much love and joy as you can stand. We love our lives here. Yes, we are busy beyond belief. Yes, it’s a little stressful sometimes. I just find it so fulfilling. From the time I was a child I was told to work hard for what I wanted. I was also told that I was too smart to not be college educated and have a career. So, no physical work. That was for those not smart enough to get out of that poor and decrepit existence. Funny isn’t it? In the end, educated to the max, I prefer the hard work. And indeed, some of it is smart brain work. But the best and most enjoyable part involves sweat.
Particularly, I love our cows and our dairy operation. Check out the references I provided for the research around A2 beta-casein. Then sign on to our herd share program with our A2A2 milk and value added products, go to www.peacefulheartfarm.com/virginia-herdshare. Read, ask questions, download the documents. We’d love to do business with you.
And as this Memorial Day weekend stretches into Monday, I hope you’ll try that ice cream recipe. There is nothing more traditional than everyone taking turns operating that crank on the ice cream machine. Well, we use the electric method. Likely you do too, but the principle is still the same. Enjoy your time with your family and friends.
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As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”
Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.
- Peaceful Heart Farm Bulls for Sale
- NIH published study
- Nutrition & Diabetes Study
- The A2 milk case: a critical review
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