Although we love our Alpine goats, we dreamed of a good cow to provide us with delicious cream. Rich, homemade butter, whipped cream, yogurt, and ice cream…need I say more? Yes, goats can provide that to some extent, but it requires special equipment to separate the naturally homogenized milk. Cow milk separates naturally and quickly. Plus, cows can graze our lush pastures, while the goats prefer to browse along the forest line.
The more we learned about dairy cows, the more difficult our search for the right one became. Unfortunately, as modern dairy practices took shape beginning about a century ago, common dairy cows had a protein gene that began to mutate. You can find more detailed info elsewhere, but essentially, this mutation of the casein protein is often to blame for digestive issues and milk intolerance in humans. There are some dairy cows still out there, however, that do not possess the mutated gene, now known as the A1/A2 gene. The purer, original gene, known as A2/A2, is more desirable. Interestingly, goats are A2/A2, as are most beef cattle, as they never developed the mutated A1/A2 gene. This may well be a big reason why people who can’t handle cow milk can often drink goat milk just fine. In any case, regular genetic testing for this gene is a relatively new concept. As a result, A2/A2 cows are difficult to find, and if found, they are rarely for sale. Because we have several children that have shown tendencies toward dairy intolerance with standard milk, finding an A2/A2 cow was our top priority. Being blessed with one that passed every vet test we did, had good conformation, and a great looking udder was a bonus for sure!
After 2 years of searching, we finally found one! She is a standard-sized Jersey (so she will mature around 48 inches or so), due to deliver her first calf in May 2014. She was bred to a Lowline bull, so the calf will be considered a “Jey-low.” Bull calves make excellent and plentiful beef, while heifer calves can potentially become excellent milkers for a homestead. She is grass-fed, rotating around our pasture during the growing season, so she always has access to a fresh “buffet” of greens! If the Lord chooses to bless us, we will have a beautiful calf and more milk and cream than we know what to do with next summer!