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A2/A2 Milk Article from Dr. Mercola
1/16/2016 8:31:35 AM

The Devil in the Milk

July 09, 2009 | 187,847 views

milk, dairy cowsProminent food researcher Dr. Thomas Cowan has been involved in thinking about the medicinal aspects of cow’s milk virtually his entire career. 

His studies on the subject started in earnest when he read the book The Milk of Human Kindness Is Not Pasteurized, by maverick physician, William Campbell Douglass, MD.

Cowan became convinced that a large part of the disease in this country is related to the way we handle, or rather mishandle, milk and milk products. 

Raw and cultured dairy products from healthy grass-fed cows are one of the healthiest foods people have ever eaten. However, pasteurized milk products have caused more disease than perhaps any other substance people are generally in contact with.

However, he still felt that a piece of the puzzle was missing. Many of his patients, in spite of eating only the proper dairy products, still had illness and still seemed not to tolerate milk. Recently, he was asked to consider writing the foreword to a book called The Devil in the Milk, written by Dr. Keith Woodford, which was again an eye-opener for him. 

All proteins are long chains of amino acids. Beta casein is a chain 229 amino acids in length. Cows who produce this protein in their milk with a proline at number 67 are called A2 cows, and are the older breeds of cows (e.g. Jerseys, Asian and African cows). But some 5,000 years ago, a mutation occurred in this proline amino acid, converting it to histidine. Cows that have this mutated beta casein are called A1 cows, and include breeds like Holstein. 

Proline has a strong bond to a small protein called BCM 7, which helps keep it from getting into the milk, so that essentially no BCM 7 is found in the urine, blood or GI tract of old-fashioned A2 cows. On the other hand, histidine, the mutated protein, only weakly holds on to BCM 7, so it is liberated in the GI tract of animals and humans who drink A1 cow milk. 

BCM 7 has been shown to cause neurological impairment in animals and people exposed to it, especially autistic and schizophrenic changes. BCM 7 interferes with the immune response, and injecting BCM 7 in animal models has been shown to provoke type 1 diabetes. Dr. Woodford’s book presents research showing a direct correlation between a population’s exposure to A1 cow’s milk and incidence of autoimmune disease, heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.

Simply switching breeds of cows could result in amazing health benefits.

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As many of you know, I do not recommend drinking pasteurized milk of any kind because the pasteurization process, which entails heating the milk to a temperature of 145 degrees to 150 degrees F and keeping it there for at least half an hour, completely changes the structure of the milk proteins into something far less than healthy.

Pasteurized cow's milk is the number one allergic food in the United States. It has been associated with a number of symptoms and illnesses including: 

  • Diarrhea, cramps, bloating and gas 
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Arthritis 
  • Heart disease 
  • Cancer 
  • Recurrent ear infections and colic in infants and children 
  • Type 1 diabetes 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Infertility 
  • Leukemia 
  • Autism 

The healthy alternative to pasteurized milk is raw milk, which is an outstanding source of nutrients including beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidolphilus, vitamins and enzymes, and it is, in my estimation, one of the finest sources of calcium available.

Raw milk is generally not associated with any of the above health problems, and even people who have been allergic to pasteurized milk for many years can typically tolerate and even thrive on raw milk.

Yet, there are those people who still have trouble drinking raw milk, and like Dr. Thomas Cowan, I have wondered if there could be a missing piece to the puzzle.

That piece, it turns out, may very well be related to the type of cow your milk comes from.

A1 Vs. A2 Cows: What’s the Difference? 

The type of proteins in milk, and the proportion of various proteins, varies depending on the breed of cow and the type of animal (sheep, goat, cow, etc.). 

One of the major proteins in cow’s milk is casein, the predominant variety of which is called beta-casein. In older breeds of cows, such as Jersey, Asian and African cows (called A2 cows), the beta-casein contains an amino acid called proline.

In newer breeds of cows like Holstein (A1 cows), however, the proline has mutated into an amino acid called histidine.

This is important because beta-casein also contains an amino acid called BCM-7, which is a powerful opiate linked to negative health effects. Well, the proline that exists in A2 cows has a strong bond to BCM-7, which helps keep it out of the cows’ milk. The histidine in the newer A1 cows, however, has a weak hold on BCM-7, which allows it to get into the milk, and also into the people who drink the milk. 

So the theory goes that by drinking milk from A1 cows, which are the predominant cows used for dairy products in the United States, you’re exposed to BCM-7, which has been linked to:

This issue has recently been evaluated by both Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). FSANZ had this to say:

“FSANZ has considered the very limited scientific evidence available on comparative health effects of the two milks and discussed the issue internally and at Board level. FSANZ has noted that further research is in progress and concluded that, while there are some interesting hypotheses being examined, it could not proceed with regulatory action on the basis of the available evidence.”

EFSA, meanwhile, which released a review of the issue in February 2009, stated:

“Based on this review, EFSA concluded that a cause and effect relationship is not established between the dietary intake of BCM7, related peptides or their possible protein precursors and non-communicable diseases. Consequently, a formal EFSA risk assessment is not recommended."

It will be interesting to see whether further research will prompt a different response, but remember that A1 milk is common in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe, so it will take a major overhauling of the dairy industry … and a revolution of sorts to overtake their corporate interests … to convert herds to produce A2 milk (a move that is actually very simple and requires just a simple test of beta-casein to do).

For now, you can get an eye-opening education into the health issues surrounding A1 milk, and why A2 milk appears to be far superior, in Keith Woodford’s book Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk

How to Find Truly Health Milk 

Depending on where you live, A2 milk may not be hard to find at all. In fact, herds in much of Asia, Africa, and parts of Southern Europe still produce primarily A2 milk. If you live in the United States, New Zealand, Australia or other areas of Europe, however, you’ll need to look a bit harder. 

To find A2 milk, the type that has not been associated with illness and instead appears to have numerous health benefits, look for milk that comes from Jerseys, Asian and African cows. The best way to do this may be to get to know a farmer directly and find out what type of cow is used. And as always, stick to milk that is raw, NOT pasteurized. 

Raw goat and sheep’s milk is another option, as these types of milk do not contain BCM-7.

On other point Woodford’s book points out is that people with healthy digestive tracts do not absorb as much BCM-7. So this is yet another incentive to keep your gut in tip-top condition by eating healthy and getting plenty of good bacteria, either by eating naturally fermented foods or taking a high-quality probiotic -- especially if you enjoy drinking raw milk, and are not sure whether it comes from A1 or A2 cows.

Pecan Picking for the Family Farm
1/13/2016 11:30:31 AM
How do pecans get from the tree to our family shelves?  Our tutor asked one of our girls to write a blog about this for your pleasure and education.

Farmer’s Daughter, Grace (age 10) says:
1. If you have a pecan tree, harvest a basket of pecans.
2. Get 2 large bowls.
3. Get your utensils and wash them.
4. Get your pecans, place them on the table.
5. Get your computer and choose a movie.
6. Sit back and pick pecans.
7. This is how you pick pecans at home.

Now from the Farmer's Wife perspective:
1. Have a bunch of children.
2. Sign all of them up for piano lessons in town, where there is NOTHING to do, of course back to back lessons, and realize you will be sitting for hours on end.
3. Determine to find something to do … so you ask all the surrounding neighbors if you can pick pecans up out of their yards (because they have previously stated that they dislike the squirrels in their yard after the pecans).
4. Keep reusable sacks in the car - the kind you buy at the grocery store.
5. Utilize positive reinforcement and tell each child that you will buy their good pecans for $1.00/lb (40% more than the local pecan house will pay).  Or organic chocolate bars works too - ha, ha.
6. Line them up side by side in the neighbor’s yard, with 3 bags, one for good large pecans, one for small native pecans, one for those that are bad (hog food). 
7. Be sure to have human snacks handy as children are constantly hungry.
8. Scoot on the behind or crawl across the yard on hands & knees, in a straight line, running curved fingers (like a rake) through the thick grass, finding every pecan - place in the proper bag.  Go back and forth, slightly overlapping not to miss any pecans.
9. After piano lessons, take the pecans to the local buying station: sell the small natives to pay to crack the large paper-shell pecans. Take the bad one’s home and throw to the hogs - this is super fun to listen to them grunt their satisfaction and watch them work their amazing teeth and tongues to crack and pick out the pecan meat.  There is a hog lesson in here somewhere, don’t miss the opportunity to teach something about hogs and God’s amazing design, then let me know so I can teach it too :)>.
10. Freeze the cracked pecans if you don't have time to pick them right away.
11. When you have time to pick, roast the pecans for 7-10 minutes to dry.
12. Then proceed with Grace's instructions above.

Good paper-shell pecans will yield about 50% of their weight in meat - per our experience and available variety.  This means that local cost is about $3.75/lb if you were to buy them; 50% yield gives us $7.50/lb in cost (however, these could be sprayed so know your source - organic pecans cost a LOT more); each 5 lbs takes about 2 hours of labor to pick, while watching a movie at our house; each 15 lbs takes about 2 hours of labor (1 adult and 5 children) to harvest (this takes the place of purchase price); each vacuum seal bag is about $0.16 and the machine cost about $300 with a useful life of about 12-18 months for packaging pecans, dried blueberries and 30 lbs of cheese per week (on our farm) - not a great ROI so be sure to keep your receipt in case your Cabella commercial vacuum sealer was purchased with a warranty - ha, ha!  We Farmer's have to make use of every asset if we want an ROI (return on investment) and the "Devil is in the Details" as the old saying goes.  A Farm must be micro managed just like any other business if it is to be profitable and support a family.

So now you know how we harvest pecans for our family on our farm.
Why Does Sand Creek Farm Milk Cost More?
1/3/2016 11:41:03 AM

Why is Sand Creek Farm Milk more expensive than other Raw Milk Farms?


That is a good question and the answer can also be applied to “How do I test to ensure I am getting a good home milk cow?” because we walk through those steps first at the time of purchase for a cow.  Then combine that information about what we do daily, weekly and annually to continue to ensure a clean cow.


1st - The buyer has to locate a cow and explain to the seller the testing required and convince them to put the cow in isolation during the testing period.


2nd - Determine if the cow’s bag is clean. The buyer needs to purchase a CMT (California Mastitis Test), drive to the cow and pull a milk sample from each quarter of each cow.  Mix with the reagent right there on site - it is simple - if the cow shows any reaction, you get in your vehicle and drive away. Instant results.  The cost of this test kit is about $17, I have a link to a test kit on the first page of our website.  This will last you most of the life of your home milk cow, very inexpensive.


3rd - Determine if the cow is A2/A2.  In our experience,1 in 3 cows pass this test, if testing Jersey or Guernsey.  If step one is clean, then the potential buyer pulls out tail hair samples, puts them in a sealed envelope and sends them to UC Davis Genetic Lab, 7-14 days for results. Testing is $25 per cow with an online account at UC Davis. ~ $75 to find an A2/A2 cow.


NOTE:  After this step the buyer needs to source a local vet that is NOT the seller’s vet.


4th - Determine if the cow is free of Bovine Viral Leukemia. In our experience,1 in 3 cows pass this test no matter the breed.  This test routinely cost $35/cow, you ask for a 1 Day PCR by blood. ~$105 for this test by the time you test 3 cows. Only 20% of the dairy cows are said to be free of leukemia in the USA, 40-50% of beef cows.


Now you being the rest of the standard dairy cow protocol…


5th - You have the vet perform a skin prick for TB.  The vet inserts this serum under the skin at the tail head, then makes a 2nd trip to the farm to read the test 72 hours later. ~$15 each in our experience.


6th - You ask the vet to run a PCR for BVD from via skin tissue (NOT blood). Usually they make an ear notch.  $15-$35 in our experience.


7th - You ask the vet to run a brucellosis test.  This will be a blood test.  $1-$15 in our experience.


8th - You ask the vet to run a 1 Day PCR fecal for Johnes.  ~$35/test in our experience.


Some of these samples can be gathered at the same time, if you only want to pay for 2 vet trips, normally about $65-100 per farm call trip depending on your location in the USA. We have seen a vet charge for straight time and cost of tests only, when we started with a herd of 83 animals - this approach saved quite a bit of money.  We started with 83 animals in the group, 53 passed the first CMT test - then the vet came in from that point.  Only 13 in this grouping passed all test and were purchased and came to the farm - a large percentage died in the first 8 months due to not having the gut bacteria to survive on grass and the lack of immune system to live in pasture due to being raised in a confinement facility on a pre-prepared grain/hay ration.  It was a VERY expensive experiment!


So, now we have covered testing to get a cow to the farm, let’s move on to daily, weekly and annual protocol on our farm that raises the price of the milk.


1st - we daily feed milk to the hogs/chickens/dogs/cats via bypassing the milking system that has ANY CMT reaction.  We test weekly which gives us a 7-9 day head start on elevated white blood cell counts.  The State says we can put milk in the tank up to the most violent reaction; our protocol says ANY reaction and the milk is to be animal feed - not for humans.


2nd - annually we test for TB, Brucellosis, and Leukemia.  Leukemia is viral and can be passed by all bodily fluids.  What does that mean?  That means, sharing water troughs, breeding, in utero, milk, meat, and biting insects.  This required staying on top of this potential threat as biting insects can fly a long way, and previously heavy grain feeders purchased from another owner can have a more acidic blood chemistry, which is a perfect host for this bovine viral leukemia.  If a cow is positive - we now kill them as that is the only way to eradicate the disease.  Even though we have sold them in the past as 80% of the dairy cows are infected anyway, and there is no regulation at any level to protect the consumer, we now feel this is a personal moral issue and just because others do it - we don’t want to put these infected cows back into the public domain, per se.


But, you say, “that milk is pasteurized so it should be ok” - well, now it is known that 75% of the milk pasteurization trials did NOT kill bovine leukemia.  The CDC reports that it is transferring species and that this bovine leukemia has been found alive in human breast cancer patients.  One research article sited that 75% of the random human blood samples showed antibodies to this virus.  We feel a moral obligation to do everything we can to protect those that trust us - so we kill the infected cows.  Now to help you feel more easy about this, we have only ever seen this in purchased cows, not cows we have raised, and we have had a closed herd since 2013.  Which brings us to the 3rd reason our milk is more expensive.


3rd - a baby cow needs to nurse 5-10 months as their rumen does not open until they are between 5-6 months old, 8-10 months in nature, and they like to drink 2-7 gallons per day.  If their Momma does not have 2-7 gallons per day, they will nurse any other Momma that will let them.  In our herd, our cows keep their babies unless we sell them, which sometimes we do b/c we have more than we need for herd replacement every 2 years.  We milk our cows only one time per day to allow them to make milk for their babies and we humans - sometimes it is still to hard on them when there is not enough lush green grass, about 6 months out of the year.  During that time we buy in outside feed to supplement them - grass hay, alfalfa hay, and 5-10 lbs of a soy free, gmo free dairy ration that we have custom made (this can really raise the average cost per gallon of milk).  The loss of milk to each heifer or bull calf also increase the cost per gallon of milk that makes it to the container.  You can do the math, 2-7 gallons at $20/gal x # of days in (7 month average) - don’t fall out of your chair when you finish with this calculation, then you can add the number back into the cost of the gallons that we do get.  I forgot that, our cows bring in 3/4-1.25 gal/day on a 270 day average.


4th - since we strive to be a grass only dairy operation that means lots and lots and lots of pasture maintenance….rotational grazing means putting up and taking down hot wire fencing (LABOR - every paid for an employee, matched their taxes and paid Texas Unemployment - it is very expensive - add Worker’s Compensation for the sue happy world in which we reside - and you are talking yourself right out of an employee).  Then you have either owning and maintaining a tractor, tilling, planting and hay equipment or hiring it in - either way is expensive.  No till is an option but we get lower production for the same expense with that method.


5th - Raw milk insurance.  Many small farmers that are milking cows for raw milk have yet to realize that Raw milk insurance is a requirement to have farm insurance now, if you are milking for raw milk.  The minimum policy is $8,200/year.  Do your math above on how much we produce and then divide this number by those gallons and you will know how much of each gallon goes to towards insurance.  But, this is not the farm insurance, this is just the raw milk insurance.  All insurance combined is about $12,000 per year - farm vehicles, raw milk insurance, liability on the other foods and insurance to allow non-owners to come onto the farm.


So, in a nutshell, Sand Creek Farm’s Milk is More Expensive because we have adhered to the request and wishes of our customers for health giving milk by implementing rigorous herd management practices and white blood cell count evaluation protocol that give the best health to the cow, their offspring and our customer’s families:

  1. Extensive testing pre-purchase
  2. Weekly testing and daily dumping of any milk with any elevation in the white blood cell count
  3. Following the rules for the raw milk insurance
  4. Allowing calves to nurse most of the cow’s lactation
  5. Extensive management of the pastures for planting and rotational grazing
  6. Sometimes buying in of extra feed stuffs
  7. Milking 270 days a year instead of the standard 300 days
  8. Once a day milking to allow calves milk to raise our own replacement stock from within
  9. Carrying nursing calves, weaned calves, bred heifers, the milking herd itself and 1-2 bulls at all times
  10. 3/4 - 1 1/4 gal/day production due to the practices above
  11. One part time employee to milk and care for the herd


As of today, our 3 year average production cost has been $20/gal.  This includes all standard business expenses for the dairy (web page, telephone, etc, as well as direct expenses for equipment repair, hay, and on the list goes).  This amount includes NO salary for the farm owners (Ben and I) In the 11 years we have been farming for customers through Sand Creek Farm, we have NEVER drawn a salary from the farm.  In fact, the Farm has yet to pay us back the initial investment of setting it into place.  The Farm does not pay us rent (I know some of you are wondering). 


“Then way in the world do you farm?”  This is a fair question.  To one which I say “Everyone should own a farm!”.  Now you are thinking “Is she crazy!?!”.  No, but you need to put on your accounting hat and pull out your budget software too.  The farm raises food right?  A farmer can eat all of their own food they want, right?  So how much would it cost to grocery shop for the top quality food in the USA to feed a family of 7 that eats like hungry boys (farm girls eat a lot of food!).  How much does the gym cost?  Do we need a gym when we are shucking manure, milking cows, working in the garden, riding horse bareback to round up cow?  Heck no!  Want to talk about a weight management program - go build some fence for the day - you will be sore in every muscle of your body.  And how about spending time with your kids?  Ever think “I wish I had more time to just teach my kids the things I have learned and need to pass down?”.  Many of us do have this though, even Ben and I.  The farm offers opportunity every single day to work with our children.  Their tutor comes to the farm 4 hours a day for conventional schooling, the rest of the day they are ours.  Our girls pull orders for customers, care for plants with us in aquaponics, harvest both in aquaponics and the field, they participate in all the vet work on cattle, horses, dogs, cats, ducks, geese and chickens - and yes, they occasionally bring in a bunny or a bird.  They work on the computer systems for order management, they make and package yogurt and cheese.  They help with scrap metal cleanup, making videos with editing and music for livestock for sale and so much more that I can’t name it all.  Oh yes, Farmer’s Market, what better public speaking course could their be … they have to know their product, make eye contact, exchange money, set up break down … what is the saying “early to bed, early to ride, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” - well the wealthy part by todays standards of “cash in hand” and Farmer don’t go together but wealthy in the sense of family, communication, character, diligence, tenacity, leaning to lean on God for daily direction - all of that an more.


There is not much that beats living on a farm.  If you have never tried it, ask the Lord to reveal to you through His Holy Spirit if farming might be for you.  We never thought it would be our calling but this is where He called us and this is where He provides for our family.  If He calls you … hold on to your hat … you are in for a new world of learning, character growth opportunities on your way to being empowered to provide for your family and to feed others in need!


Be blessed,

The Farmer’s Wife 

How To Make Kefir
1/3/2016 9:51:21 AM

Good Morning:


I am often asked how to make kefir.  I had Christmas lunch with an experienced blogger and she said "people want you to teach them something!”. 


Therefore, The Farmer's wife will teach you how I make kefir!


What I use to make kefir:

- 1 quart glass canning jar, move up to a 1/2 gal jar if you have a large family

- Scoop of kefir grains

- Raw Milk from BLV free cows

- A lid of any sort


How I make kefir:

- Put the scoop of kefir grains in the jar, 1-2 Tbs for a quart

- Pour in the milk to about the bottom of the neck

- Set a lid on top - I might just set a clean plastic container lid on top - not one that I would screw down for a tight seal, just a loosely set something on top to keep the air from dropping dust particles or whatever into the mix.  Cloth gets wet, so I prefer plastic.  You don’t want the liquid to touch the top so be sure to leave some room as it does expand just a bit in the jar

- In our home the temperature is about 72 degrees F.  It takes about 24 hours to culture.  To determine if the culture is complete to my taste, I rotate the jar a bit to see if it is clinging to the sides like a big piece of yogurt.  I NEVER stir; stirring breaks it apart and makes such an ugly product (in my opinion).


How I get kefir out of the jar:

  • I set a stainless bowl on the counter
  • I put a stainless colander on top of the bowl
  • I invert the jar over the colander and dump the entire contents into the colander
  • I use a flexible silicone spatula working gently back and forth in the kefir close to the bottom of the colander to encourage the kefir to fall through the holes until just the plump kefir grains are left in my colander
  • I put the kefir grains into a new clean jar, add milk
  • I pour the kefir into a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator


Now, other questions I get asked …

  1. Can you put kefir to sleep?

Yes, you can.

- For a week to 3 weeks, I put fresh milk on the grains and put the container in the refrigerator.

- For longer than 3 weeks, I put fresh milk on the grains and put the container in the freezer (I use a plastic container when I do this b/c the milk expands and can break the glass jar.  Many however do freeze in glass, it is a personal choice).


2. How do you wake them up?

  • Get them out, defrost if needed, work them in the colander as described above and start like normal.  Those that have been frozen may take 2-3 kefirings to fully wake up, so use a small amount of milk each time so that you don’t waste.  You can use the watery kefir that results the first couple of time, it is just not the creamy pretty product you will normally expect.


3. What if I don’t want to use the kefir right away?

- You can complete the culturing process, then without separating, set the container in the refrigerator with a lid.  Whenever you are ready to use, just pull the container out of the refrigerator and separate as I have described above, consume the refrigerated kefir, and begin a new batch.


3. What is wrong when it looks like the kefir is broken up like curds and whey?

- It means one of two things … you have too many grains to the volume of milk and/or you let it kefir too long.  You can change either the quantity of grains or shorten the length of time for your kefir to culture.  Grains are safe to eat, just throw them in your smoothy or chew them for a funky funny face contest.


4. What if my kefir looks weird or grows orange stuff on it?

  • If I see this, I scoop off the orange stuff and throw it and a bit of the product below the orange in the bucket that goes to our chickens.  Then I rinse the grains in well water (you would want to use distilled water if you are in the city or have water in which you do not know the contents).  Then I start them all over again and they have always been fine.  The air carries mold, sometimes this just happens, don’t panic.


5. DONT wash your grains when they arrive, DONT wash your grains between culturing.  Washing kefir grains is a NO, NO, NO!!!  Often washing the grains kills them, this is why I said above to use distilled water or known clean well water (we test our water regularly on the farm so know it is clean); tap water often has lots of chlorine and this may be the cause of kefir grain death - I am not sure.  These are live creatures, treat them well and they will provide excellent healthy food for your family.


Buy them in our online store for $15.00, enough to start a quart or more sized container of kefir, http://csa.farmigo.com/store/sandcreekfarm, choose the dairy page and scroll down to kefir.  Or, send an email and ask me to ship them to you for $20 total, info@sandcreekfarm.net.  We accept paypal to this email address or you may mail a check.

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