When first heard about this rare heritage breed (officially listed as a “watch” breed with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy) we were actually searching for information on Jersey cows! Like Jerseys, Guernsey cows come from the Channel Islands which are universally accepted as producing the best milk in the world. Also like Jerseys, Guernsey cows milk is high in butterfat (which gives milk a sweet flavor), and are known for being a quiet, docile breed who is an excellent converter of forage to milk and requires 30% less feed than larger, more productive breeds. What really sold us on Guernsey’s, though, were two things that they do not have in common with their Channel Island cousins: high levels of beta-carotene (which gives her milk a golden color and earned her the title “Golden Guernsey”) and a much higher percentage of Beta Casein A2 (95% compared to 40% in Jersey milk and 15% in ‘ordinary milk’. [For more information on the differences between A1 and A2 milk [as it’s called], click Here.])
In addition, Guernsey milk contains:
12% more protein
30% more cream
33% more vitamin D
25% more vitamin A and
15% more calcium
than average milk.
Here was a cow who fit in perfectly with our goals for the farm! A heritage breed who produced amazingly healthy and nutritious milk, whom we could help, in our small way, save from extinction.
We set out to locate a Guernsey cow and were extremely blessed to discover that there are several Guernsey breeders in Kentucky! We visited a nearby dairy farm and fell in love with a beautiful girl named Lucy, who is not only in milk but is also due to calve toward the first of the year! Lucytested positive for the A2/A2 gene, which means that her milk is 100% A2. If you’ve never heard of A1 and A2 milk, a quick explanation is that there are two main forms of cow’s milk protein beta-casein, (known as A1 and A2 beta-casein.) Originally, all cows produced A2 beta-casein, but at some point in history a genetic mutation happened and the A1 form of beta-casein started to show up in dairy cattle and spread throughout dairy herds in Europe and America. Research links A1 milk to many different health problems and some people who are thought to be lactose intolerant are able to digest A2 milk. A2 milk is also supposed to be better for those suffering from allergies. We feel incredibly blessed to have Lucy and are looking forward to many years with our new family cow!