Local farmer putting a focus on milk that could be easier to digest
CAROLINE COUNTY, Md. – Milk. A lot of us drink it, but not everyone can digest it. That may soon change for those who purchase milk from dairies that produce A2A2 milk, like Nice Farms Creamery.
“What we were doing here already was great. But the Jersey cows, and more importantly the Jersey cow that produces A2A2 milk, is I think it’s a finest example of milk that people can buy,” said farmer Bob Miller.
Miller says over the past two years, he’s been busy narrowing his milk down to just the A2A2 variety. Having a herd of Jersey cows, which predominantly produces A2A2 milk, was the first step in the process. “That had to be done with genetic testing, with tail hair. We tested everybody. We were pleased to find out that the majority of the herd was already A2A2, and that the rest of them who weren’t A2A2 were at least a carrier,” said Miller.
Today, Miller says he’s one of the only dairies in the area that produces and processes their own A2A2 milk. But, what exactly is A2A2 milk? Milk can have two types of proteins in it; A1 beta-casein, or A2 beta-casein. When you drink milk, your body could have different reactions to it, depending on which one of those proteins it contains. For some people drinking milk with A1 beta-casein could cause digestive problems. “What’s leftover, the byproducts of that, have opioid-type activity. That slows the rate of passage in your gut down in certain people,” said UMD Extension educator Jeff Semler.
The potential benefits of A2A2 milk haven’t been fully and scientifically proven yet. But, some correlations have already been drawn between the effects of A2A2 milk. “We know that these proteins are high in goat’s milk. A lot of times when people have digestive problems with milk, we switch them to goat’s milk,” said Semler. “Certainly, there will be plenty of data crunched over the course of time here, and they’ll be able to come up with a little more definitive answer to that question.”
Besides that, Miller says producing milk only from Jersey cows can have its benefits too. Research suggests that milk from Jersey cows could contain 15 to 20% more protein, 15 to 18% more calcium, and 10 to 12% more phosphorus. Plus, studies show the milk has higher levels of vitamin B12. Jersey cows could also be more efficient. Research also suggests that Jersey cows have a unique biological ability to use the energy in their feed for milk production, instead of losing it through their waste.
Back at the farm, Miller says that’s something he’s looking forward to, as it could keep his farm successful, and bring back a vital part of Caroline County’s economy. “In the 1950s here in Caroline County, I want to say there were over 500 dairies. There’s like four left, and in many counties on the peninsula, there’s zero,” said Miller. “The A2A2 beta-casein is going to help open the door for a lot of people who may not have been able to drink milk for the longest time.”