Dairy Cow Anomalies

Dairy Cows in the Flathead

Dairy Cows in the Flathead

By Cat, Jun 2007 and updates Jan 2015 Photo, right, of holstein cows, by D. Morgan, used with permission;

Several experiments have been conducted in the hope of improving Big-Dairy’s bottom line; I discuss two here, plus an anomaly in the DNA of newer breeds of dairy cows Unfortunately, those anomalies are not necessarily good for the animals, nor for humans who drink the milk of these cows.

Genetically Engineered Hormone (Monsanto’s rBGH)

Modern Holstein dairy cows are specially bred to produce high levels of growth hormone by the animal’s pituitary gland, which in turn produces larger volumes of milk from each cow.  But for some milk producers, these cows are still not producing enough milk fast enough to beef up their bottom line.

To satisfy this desire, Monsanto developed a genetically engineered growth hormone they call recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, or rBGH (also known as rBST), and rushed it through FDA approval despite nationwide protests by consumer groups.  This drug is injected into dairy cows, forcing them to produce 15-25% more milk, in the process seriously damaging the health and reproductive capacity of these cows.

Unfortunately, this hormone is disastrous for the cows, as they are dying in droves.  Normally dairy cows live for 15 – 20 years.  A 1998 survey by Family Farm Defenders reports that mortality rates were running at 40% per year, for cows on factory farms in Wisconsin that inject their cows with rBGH.  After only two and a half years of rBGH injections, most of these cows were dead (1).

Now research scientists from the Cancer Prevention Coalition and the Consumers Union raise the alert that milk from rBGH injected cows contains substantially higher amounts of a potent cancer tumor promoter called IGF-1, as well as higher levels of pus, harmful bacteria, and antibiotics.  All of which makes this milk unfit for human consumption, and yet the FDA gives its stamp of approval.  Yet labeling of rBGH derived products is not required.

Fortunately, rBGH-free milk producers label their products as free of this artificial hormone. Another alternative is to buy Organic milk, because the rules of organic labeling require the absence of genetically engineered food products. However, most commercial Organic dairies ultra-pasteurize their milk, which has its own issues, as discussed in the next section.

Breeding Freak Cows

Scientists in New Zealand recently discovered select cows with genes that give them natural ability to produce skim milk (milk with very low fat content).  They also found a cow that produces milk with unique characteristics to make a spreadable butter straight from the refrigerator (high in polyunsaturated fats).  They now plan to breed entire herds of these cows, aiming to have a commercial herd by 2011 (2, 3).

The technical director at Dairy UK postulates this approach could also be used to breed cows that still produce full-fat milk, but with unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats.  The argument here is that only unsaturated fats are “good,” and saturated fats are “bad” for health.  But this is a very questionable argument (refer to my article on Saturated Fats).

As far as I can see, the only advantage of this possibility is that people might change back to whole milk products (5). But you can be sure this milk will be pasteurized and homogenized, and the cows will be kept in confinement.

What’s next; cows bred to produce fat and sugar-free chocolate milk?

Cows with mutated protein: The Devil in the Milk

The following is excerpt from my article on The EssentiaList: The Devil in Milk. First, honesty in journalism:  I’ve borrowed the title of this post from The Devil in the Milk, a book by Dr. Keith Woodford. I first learned of this issue from Mercola’s website (4).

Scientists have long marked a link between commercial milk consumption and the following health issues:

  • Increased mucous,
  • Lactose intolerance,
  • Heart disease,
  • Type 1 diabetes,
  • Autoimmune diseases,
  • Autism, and
  • Schizophrenia

While this is usually attributed to the pasteurization of milk, some people continue to have problems even after switching to raw milk. But now it appears that there is an additional problem with commercial milk:  the type of cows that produce it; namely the black and white Holsteins and Friesians. It’s not their color, but a mutated milk protein (termed A-1), that lies at the root of the problem.

Jersey Cow

Jersey Cow

Older breeds of dairy cows, such as Jerseys and Guernseys (termed A-2) do not have this mutated protein. Neither do any known breeds of dairy goats. (Photo, left, cropped from Wikimedia Commons)

“There appears to be a direct correlation between a population’s exposure to A1 cow’s milk and incidence of auto-immune disease, heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.” (5. 6.7)

So, if you are really concerned about your health, and that of your family, consider switching to raw milk from A-2 cows or goats.

For the rest of the quote from The Bovine blog, by Dr. Thomas Cowan (5), that gets to the heart of the matter, see my original article on The EssentiaList: The Devil in Milk)


  1. Mercola on rBGH: mercola.com/2002/feb/27/rbgh.htm
  2. Mercola on cows that can make skim milk: blogs.mercola.com/sites/vitalvotes/archive/2007/06/01/Some-Cows-Can-Now-Make-Skim-Milk.aspx
  3. Science blog: scienceblog.com/cms/skimmed-milk-straight-cow-13320.html
  4. Mercola on the Devil in the Milk: articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/09/The-Devil-in-the-Milk.aspx
  5. The Bovine Blog: “The Devil in the Milk” —concerning Dr. Woodfords book, by Dr. Thomas Cowan (thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/the-devil-in-the-milk-dr-thomas-cowan-on-how-a2-milk-is-the-answer-to-the-mystery-of-why-even-raw-milk-sometimes-does-not-seem-to-be-enough-of-an-improvement-over-store-bought
  6. Bovine blog: A1 beta-casein in milk also implicated in autism and schizophrenia (thebovine.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/a1-beta-casein-in-milk-also-implicated-in-autism-and-schizophrenia-percent-a1-and-a2-in-milk-is-breed-dependent/)
  7. Bovine blog: A2 milk solution to lactose intolerance, allergies, other illness? (thebovine.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/a2-milk-solution-to-lactose-intolerance-allergies-other-illness-natural-news/)

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