You may not have known that the vast majority of milk and milk products in North America are made from the milk of the venerable Holstein cow. Dairy farmers choose Holsteins partly because they tend to produce more milk than other breeds.
Recent studies are revealing that Holstein cows are more likely to produce milk with the at least one A1 beta casein protein (see the table below from an article from the Canadian Dairy Network).
Table 2: Estimated Beta Casein Genotype Frequencies by Breed
According to the article, “studies suggest around 25% of people are sensitive to one of the proteins that are released upon the digestion of A1 milk.”
It’s not totally clear, however, if so-called “A2 milk” performs better. Many of the studies that have been conducted by a company that markets A2 milk. Check out this article from Mother Jones for more on the topic.
Kootenay Co-op offers a milk from Happy Planet Creamery that is sourced from heritage breeds. Happy Planet says their milk comes from Jerseys, Jersey crosses, Brown Swiss and Guernseys, breeds “known for their superbly creamy and flavourful milk full of healthful benefits. Their milk has a higher percentage of butterfat, calcium, beta carotene, omega 3s and A2 protein than modern domestic breeds like Holsteins.”
One downside to this delicious-sounding milk? Cost. Since these breeds produce only about half as much per cow as Holsteins, you can expect to pay a bit more. Depending on your taste, and your digestion, it might be worth it (also available in chocolate!).