Can I Milk My Pet Cow If She's Not a Holstein?

Posted by Stacey Venzel

If she's not spotted, she can still be milked!

Milk on the shelves is associated with the black and white spotted Holstein cow. But milk on the farm is simply associated with a mammal. Country folk stock their refrigerators with the creamy beverage from cows, sheep, goats, and sometimes a camel or two.

But a bovine doesn't have to be polka-dotted in order to have drinkable milk. The nature of a mammal is that it has mammary glands, meaning milk-producing breasts--udders on a cow. The nourishing liquid is for the youngins, but humans make use of it long after we're weaned off our own mothers.


Once a heifer calves, she becomes a cow. The calf starts nursing immediately, but udders will dry up once the calf grows old enough. As the little one is weaned from suckling to solid food in the pasture, milk would naturally stop being produced because the flow is stimulated by nursing.

However, humans maintain constant milk production provided the cow continues to calf at least once a year. Milking is done either via the old-fashioned by-hand method or the mechanical pumping technique.

Holsteins are in the limelight simply because they are the breadwinners in the milk industry, which is why the commercial avenue employs them. But the content of the milk varies among cow breeds much like it differs between mammals.


A single family does not need to rely on a Holstein to nurture its milk needs. Therefore, a breed with a lower production of milk would be feasible. Additionally, Holstein milk has a low percentage of butterfat, which might affect a family's decision on which cow to own for home dairy production.

Scientists have also uncovered the A1 mutation in many "newer" bovine breeds, including Holsteins. This mutation has been linked to a myriad of human health conditions including autoimmune diseases, autism, heart disease, schizophrenia and type 1 diabetes.

"Older" breeds called A2 cows have an amino acid in their casein protein called proline, but the A1 mutation has converted proline to histidine.


Proline is able to bind to the BCM 7 protein, thereby preventing the health-concerning protein from being absorbed into the body's system. Histidine, however, has only a very weak bond with BCM 7, allowing the protein to enter into the digestive tract when a human consumes A1 dairy. A2 cows include Jersey, Asian, and African breeds.

The A2 cows are prevalent in their countries of origin but can be more difficult to obtain in the U.S., Europe, Australia, or New Zealand. If you're a milk drinker with any of the above listed health problems, switching to raw, non-pasteurized milk from an A2 cow could improve your well-being.

So, Holsteins, step back. There just might be some new cows in town. And by town, we of course mean farm.

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Can I Milk My Pet Cow If She's Not a Holstein?