The A1 and A2 Factor in Raw Milk

by Sarah Other, Raw Milk History, VideosComments: 57

A1 and A2 raw milk cows

Is it possible that the farm fresh dairy you are buying is not healthy? Yes, this is very possible and this week’s vlog tells you why and shows you how to discern the best one for your family.   I also go over the difference between A1 and A2 raw milk which refers to the different type of casein (protein) in milk from different breeds of cows.    What type of cow your fresh milk comes from is CRITICAL to your health.

It is important to know that nearly ALL the dairy from the store is from the WRONG kind of cow, just another reason to not buy products from companies like Organic Valley and instead seek out dairy from a small farm that uses old fashioned cows.

Dr. Tom Cowan MD wrote an excellent article published by The Bovine a few months back that explains the A1, A2 beta casein issue in depth.

A1 and A2 Explained

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

More Information

A1 and A2 Milk: Do Cow Genetics Even Matter?

Why Milk Matters and Why It’s Not Just for Baby Cows

Comments (57)

  • SV

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for this information. I have a question and would really appreciate your feedback!

    My farm co-op offers regular A1 milk for a reasonable price. They also offer A2 milk, but it is much more expensive. And they offer goat milk, for a price comparable to the A2 milk.

    If I’m going to pay a premium, is it better to go for the A2 cow’s milk or the goat’s milk?

    Please let me know what you think! I really appreciate your advice.

    February 21st, 2016 3:00 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Drink whatever you digest better … even if it might be the A1 milk.

      February 21st, 2016 6:01 pm Reply
  • Joy

    I know one company that produces A2 only whey drinks and cheese.

    September 24th, 2015 11:12 am Reply
  • Thomas

    The Facts on Guernsey Milk

    1) Guernsey milk contains 3 times as much omega 3 as other milks.

    2) Beta Casein A2 – When tested in the UK Guernsey milk tested had more than 95% A2 which compares with 40% A2 in Jersey milk and 15% in ‘ordinary milk’.

    3) Beta Carotene – This is not digested by Guernsey cows so it passes into the milk and produces the wonderful golden colour. Beta Carotene is found in green vegetable matter i.e. grass and is thought to give protection against certain cancers. It is known that the consumption of vegetables is good for you. Therefore drinking Guernsey milk should provide the same health advantages.

    4) Guernsey milk contains 12% more protein, 30% more cream, 33% more vitamin D, 25% more vitamin A and 15% more calcium than average milk. On average they produce milk of: 4.65% Butterfat and 3.55% Protein. The fat and protein content of Guernsey milk is higher than that of ‘ordinary’ milk, meaning it has a better balance then Jersey milk and is therefore 95% fat free.

    May 7th, 2013 10:17 pm Reply
  • Dale

    Hi Sarah,

    I have been researching getting a dairy cow so that we can have are own farm fresh milk, Dutch Belted are high on my list at the moment. One thing that I have learned is that Dutch Belted produce smaller fat gobules, kind of like goats, that account for the smaller cream line. It’s kind of a naturally homogenized cows milk from what I have read. Hope this helps.

    April 7th, 2013 7:42 pm Reply
  • Cass

    I have hit a wall of trouble we are a military family and we are in the process of moving to Jacksonville North Carolina and I have learned that Raw milk has become illegal to sell in NC. Crazy right! I know I can drive out of state to get some but if I do that I would want to buy large amounts at a time. Would it be okay for me to buy large amounts of Raw milk and freeze it till I need it, or is that not a good idea? The last time I was around Raw milk was when I was a kid but I have been waning a switch back to Raw milk and traditional healthy cooking. The past 5 years I have had a lot of health problems and weight issues and I am done I want to feel better and live healthier.

    December 11th, 2012 6:15 pm Reply
  • Carol G

    For those of you wondering about the Dutch Belted cows for a quality source since you are getting less cream. I would ask your providing farmer if he also sells cream. Chances are he is skimming of some of the cream to sell so you are getting less.

    September 21st, 2012 1:27 pm Reply
  • Jessie

    Great video, I was drinking raw milk but turned out it was A1 (still improved my health a lot). Going to change to A2 now.

    August 17th, 2012 9:21 am Reply
  • Brandy

    I am very excited that I have discovered a farm near me that sells raw milk from Jersey cows. I plan on signing up for the herd-share (the only way to legally obtain raw milk in Ohio) and wonder about the butter conundrum. I cook extensively with butter and want to make my own from the raw milk, however as I understand it, if I skim off the cream to make butter I will end up with skim milk which does not sound appetizing. I can obtain pasteurized yet nonhomogenized milk and make butter from that, but it is not ideal. The herd-share does not offer straight cream, just milk. Any suggestions are appreciated!

    May 27th, 2012 10:41 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Hi Sarah,
    I am confused and a little disappointed after seeing your video about A1 and A2 raw milk, because I live in the UK and there are no dairy farms in my area selling raw milk. Therefore, I go to an excellent farm in the south which sells raw milk by mail order, but their cows are the Holstein breed. Am I to understand that I shouldn’t be drinking this milk because the cows may be producing the wrong type of milk? I thought my switch to raw milk was 100% beneficial to my health, but are you now telling me that it is not?
    Please leave a comment.

    January 25th, 2012 8:32 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Raw milk from hosteins is better than pasteurized milk from jerseys.

      January 25th, 2012 8:55 am Reply
      • Anonoymous

        Hi Sarah, which would be better, a Holstein pasture raised, grain and corn supplemented or jersey organic non-homogenized? Neither perfect but as close as I can get around here.

        November 28th, 2013 6:57 pm Reply
        • Anonoymous

          Or would we be better with organic goats milk? Or no milk at all?

          November 28th, 2013 7:43 pm Reply
        • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          Are either of the sources raw? If not, I would drink neither.

          November 30th, 2013 8:29 am Reply
        • Anonymous

          The Holstein pasture raised, grain and corn supplemented is raw.

          December 3rd, 2013 3:01 pm Reply
          • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

            I would go for the raw. Honestly, if I didn’t have a source for pasture raised, raw (I am fine with grain supplementation .. perfection is not necessary for awesome raw milk) I wouldn’t drink milk at all.

            December 4th, 2013 10:19 am
          • Anonymous

            Thanks Sarah, I appreciate your opinion!

            December 4th, 2013 7:02 pm
    • Sally


      Realise this is an old article now and you may have since sourced A2 milk in the UK. But if you haven’t, have a look on here:

      January 2nd, 2016 12:34 pm Reply
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  • Marta

    It’s incredible how difficult it becomes to get quality foods. I live in Scotland where selling raw milk is ILLEGAL. In England it is still legal to be sold by the farmer, but not by shops. The only English farm which delivers milk to Scotland has Holstein cows, but what can I do? – that’s the only source of raw milk for us here in Scotland. And expense is another thing. I pay £13 for 6 pints of milk (that’s around $21) which is a lot of money for me. But well, it’s an investment in health.
    And a funny thing – my husband who is from Algeria, North Africa, did not know what ‘pasteurised’ and ‘homogenised’ meant until he came to UK around 10 ys ago. In his country the only milk available is raw milk, so they don’t even have to call it raw, just ‘milk’. Can you believe that? And in Poland where I come from pasteurisation came around late 1980s-early1990s when the country came from under the Soviet influece and onto a way of ‘progress’. But you still can buy kefir there in any shop, which you can’t in UK.

    August 9th, 2011 12:22 pm Reply
  • Kelsey

    The only cow share I’ve been able to locate near me has Guernsey/Holstein mixes. I currently get fresh goat’s milk, but am looking to switch to cow’s milk because, for one thing, the cost difference is HUGE (at least where I am) and our budget is tight, and… I’d like fresh cream! Goat’s milk is great, but unless you want to invest in a really expensive cream separator, you can’t do things that call for cream! Do you think Guernsey/Holstein mix is a fairly safe bet?

    June 3rd, 2011 8:27 pm Reply
  • Sharon

    Regarding the cream line. Your milk provider may be skimming some off to have for other products to sell or use. And if the cow is sharing with her calf then she is likely holding cream back for the calf. They are able to do that and once the calf is weaned, the cream line goes back up. It is interesting to me that in the book titled “The Milk Diet,” written by a doctor in the 1940’s about the many diseased he cured with raw milk, he advocated Holstein milk as the very best for his use. I happen to own a jersey cow and she does have the MOST sweetest mildest milk I’ve ever tasted in my life. Everyone who drinks it makes a similar comment. She grazes our grassy pasture and is also fed grass and alfalfa hay, black oil sunflower seeds, organic kelp and redmond mineral block… plus lots of other treats. She is raising a beautiful calf, feeding our family and several other families. And she’s a wonderful pet, too. Cows are amazing!

    April 8th, 2011 2:15 am Reply
  • AshleeP

    I know this is an old post, but I just found it and wanted to share my experience as the owner of a Jersey family cow. The creamline on your gal of Jersey milk is fantastic, though not necessarily ‘standard’ for a Jersey. Cream content depends on lots of factors. Age of cow, where she is in her lactation (if she just had a calf there will be TONS of cream, if she is 6 mo pregnant then not as much), the season, and her diet are some factors. We get 3 gal a day from our cow. For some reason we get almost 2x as much cream from our evening milking.

    Thanks for posting this video. I will be sending our milk to be tested soon. :)

    March 4th, 2011 1:22 pm Reply
  • Jackie

    This video was a huge blessing! I am pregnant and have been wanting to switch to raw milk and have been looking around the area for a place to get it. A few ??’s for you. 1. what are the important things to ask the farmer when I find one and 2. my doc has never asked so I would assume it would be ok for me to switch while pregnant??? any advice?

    January 20th, 2011 5:26 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Jackie, I drank raw milk and consumed other raw dairy with 2 of my 3 pregnancies. Doctors will always tell you not to do this although the research indicates to me that pasteurized milk from the industrialized dairy model is much more likely to make one sick than raw milk from healthy cows on unsprayed pasture! Every state is different so check out for a map of the raw milk law for your state and for sources.

      January 21st, 2011 12:12 pm Reply
  • sarah

    Hi Danielle, if you keep your fridge around 36-38, the milk should last 10-14 days. Put into glass and it will stay fresh even longer. Shake it up well before freezing. Note that after thawing, the cream may be a bit grainy. Some folks don’t mind this and others do.

    November 30th, 2010 3:31 am Reply
  • Danielle

    Thanks Sarah,
    I did notice that the milk I got does not have a very big creamline. Once I finish what I have I’m going to try the other dairy as some friends at church get milk there and said they have a very nice size creamline in their milk.
    How long does raw milk last in the fridge and is there anything special to do if I want to freeze it? To save travel time and gas I currently purhcase milk once per month from the diary.

    thanks again – love your blog!

    November 30th, 2010 3:19 am Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Danielle, I started using raw dairy while pregnant with my second child. This was almost 10 years ago. The transition is no big deal, although you are right, your doctor will tell you that it is a dangerous thing to do. I would personally consider going through the fast food drive through to be a more dangerous undertaking! Raw holstein milk is better than nothing and surely fine if the cows are on grass and not getting antibiotics or steroids but keep trying to find a jersey farm as a big creamline is a beautiful thing!

    November 28th, 2010 3:48 am Reply
  • Danielle

    Thank you for the information. I have been doing research on raw milk and am thinking about switching our family over to raw. I am currently breast feeding a 3 month old. Do you have any suggestions/conerns on me switching to raw while breast feeding. I know my ped will tell me it's not a good idea and I still have some reaserch to do on my own but I was curious of your opinion.
    Sadly, we have two dairies close by that sell raw milk but all use holstein cows :-( I cannot find a raw milk distributor using jersey or gernsey.

    November 27th, 2010 10:41 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for the informative video. I did not know about the A1 Vs. A2 casein and will look into it further.
    I am a diary farmer on a 100% grass-fed Jersey cow dairy so I know of what I speak here. You will actually get LESS cream from a 100% grass-fed Jersey cow than a pastured Jersey cow that is getting some grain(most dairies feed some grain). The trade-off is worth it, however. Even though the volume of cream may be slightly less the fat profile and nutritional components are far better AND the cow is healthier. Just an FYI that quantity of cream is not the only indicator of quality.

    September 25th, 2010 8:37 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Martha, you can take this nonhomegenized, pasteurized milk and culture it into kefir. That would be the best way to drink it. Drinking it as is would be a big allergy risk, I'm afraid and contribute to quite a bit of mucous and congestion – not a good idea going into the Fall/Winter months. Just my 2 cents.

    September 24th, 2010 11:38 pm Reply
  • Martha

    Hi, Sarah. I'm currently on a waiting list for a cow share but otherwise don't have access to raw milk. My local health food store sells nonhomogenized milk that has been pasteurized at 172 degrees for 15 seconds. My 5 year old and I have not been drinking milk for several months after learning of the dangers of pasteurized milk. Is this milk at the health food store better than none at all? Did I read on your site that there was a way to restore health to pasteurized milk? I looked, but couldn't find it. Thank you for all the good information you willingly share with us!

    September 24th, 2010 9:41 pm Reply
  • Rick

    Mark Mcafee, Great article. A while back I read about the A1 vs A2 milk and that even if it was a Jersey cow that didn't mean they were producing A2 milk… it kind of bummed me out that I am spending $7 a gallon and the milk may still not be good for us. What your linked article says makes perfect sense and fills in some of the blanks that I was wondering about. This paragraph is great "…If the split occurred 5000 years ago and A:1 is the source of modern heart disease and makes autism worse….then this does not match up with other researchers at all. Modern diseases began with grain feeding and confinement just 75 to 100 years ago. Modern diseases are much more likely to be associated with modern processing of milk and lack of grass feeding etc."

    September 24th, 2010 9:25 pm Reply
  • Wordvixen

    Just an update- I checked a full bottle of milk this morning, and anonymous was right- it is only about 1/4 cream. Hmmm… It's still excellent, but now I'm really wondering about the Jersey/Guernsey.

    September 24th, 2010 1:14 am Reply
  • Anonymous

    I don't believe the devil in the milk is only from grain fed cow's milk. I firmly belive that A1 milk from grass-fed cows is still bad; it makes it hard to digest. I will eat cow's ghee and butter but I will never drink cow's milk again; I will only drink goat's milk which is always A2.


    September 23rd, 2010 3:22 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Mark, thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to comment on this post and further clarify this important issue. I will check out that link right away.

    September 23rd, 2010 11:55 am Reply
  • mark mcafee


    I agree with much of what you have shared….but let me help out by filling in the blanks alittle. I am very close to this A-2 subject matter and can help clear the air.

    Dr. Cowan has privately apologized to me for writing the forward to The Devil in the Milk. He said that if he knew then what he knows now he would not have said what he wrote.

    Please see this statement for some very helpful information. The A-2 story is far from conclusive. Instead of "The Devil in the Milk"….the better statement is.. "The Real Devil is in the CAFO Grain Feeding of the Cows and Processing of the Milk".

    Keep up the great teaching and nutritional work!!

    Most kind regards,

    Mark McAfee
    Founder Organic Pastures Dairy Company
    Fresno CA
    1-877 RAW MILK

    September 23rd, 2010 3:44 am Reply
  • chanelle

    Sarah, thanks! I would love to see a post on postpartum issues in the future, and hear all your knowledge on the subject! I don't drink coffee, but I'll look into getting my thyroid checked.

    September 23rd, 2010 2:21 am Reply
  • Anonymous

    Those who do GAPS with their kids, how exactly do you do it? Just follow the book? Do your kids mind drinking chicken broth most of the day?

    September 23rd, 2010 1:57 am Reply
  • Jani

    Hi Sarah!

    Thanks for posting this.. please correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that the older bloodlines of Holstein cows before all the bigger and better breeding manipulation in the 50's is actually OK IF you can find it? I really appreciate you telling folks that even if they can't get anything else raw, unadulterated milk is still MILES ahead.. because- yup- chances are even if it is organic store bought it is new style holstein milk. So, if you are going to drink cow milk raw is still better. Very interesting about goat milk though.. unfortunately I just can't handle the taste of it. Too "hairy" or goaty for me!

    September 22nd, 2010 11:17 pm Reply
  • WordVixen

    I get Dutch Belted milk as well (anonymous, are you from Central PA by any chance?). I'd say that my cream line is closer to 1/3. I'm all for biodiversity, and they are definitely A2 cows (plus I love my Amishman that provides the milk), so I'm happy to stay with them (plus it's delicious). But now I know why all of you aren't afraid of using up all your cream making butter! 😀

    By the way, I can't remember if I've mentioned this or not, but not only have I experienced a lot of health benefits since switching to raw milk, but my father has as well. Apparently he's been talking to my brother who has Crohn's about it. He (my brother) was just released from the hospital today from his most recent flare up, so once he's rested up a bit I plan to bring him a bottle to try. He's interested, if a bit wary.

    September 22nd, 2010 8:10 pm Reply
  • Joyce

    Sometimes the milk I buy raw from the Co-op is Brown Swiss. IRC, the traditional A2 dairy breeds have brown colorations, instead of the black and white, like the Holsteins.

    September 22nd, 2010 6:54 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Chanelle, pregnancy stresses the thyroid gland tremendously which is why many women get exhausted and have trouble losing weight after having their children. You may need to consult with a glandular specialist on this as this is a complicated problem. Do you drink coffee? That is a huge problem for postpartem women and sapping energy by draining the adrenal glands which are intricately linked to thyroid health.

    September 22nd, 2010 6:36 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    McUTES, I would agree with Tina. Your twins sound GAPS to me. You need to read that book right away .. see below in the recommended Amazon book section. Also do a search on GAPS on this blog as I have written alot about GAPS in the past (particularly in July 2010 which was GAPS month).

    September 22nd, 2010 6:34 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    McUtes – I would start GAPS diet ASAP. My boys were failure to thrive and I put them on GAPS and they both gained weight and inches and their red, slapped cheeks went away. I did raw milk for almost a year with them and it didn't help.


    September 22nd, 2010 6:17 pm Reply
  • chanelle

    I love yor videos and always get so much great information from them! Since having my baby via c-section almost a year ago, I have been struggling with very low energy (not to mention 10 pounds left to lose). Any solutions or ideas for more energy?

    September 22nd, 2010 5:56 pm Reply
  • McUTES

    Sarah, How perfectly fateful that I have researching milk and what to do for my twins that are 16 months old. After switching to whole milk after they both stopped stopped nursing on their own at a year, my smallest twin, quit growing and was eventually hospitalized for failure to thrive, severe anemia and iron deficiency and received blood transfusions. She is doing better now, but we were told to pump up her milk intake with carnation instance breakfast and of course fortifying her regular diet. My other twin, though looking healthier was also diagnosed with anemia…they are both take extra liquid iron…but I have serious doubts about the whole milk along with pumping it full of sugar. DO I just switch them to goats milk to get the A2 benefits and maybe improve their eating all around and help them gain weight along with hopefully making the raw chappy cheeks go away that I think is a milk allergy on one? Or do I try and find a good dairy with pure milk? You would think in Utah we could find grass fed cows…. Just wondering what your thoughts are…and thank you for taking the time and doing all this research and sharing it with the rest of us!


    September 22nd, 2010 4:24 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    I have never heard of dutch belted dairy cows. I would be a little concerned about only a quarter of the milk being cream, though. That doesn't seem like a big enough creamline to me. Do you have a jersey based farm in your area.

    September 22nd, 2010 4:22 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Gina, I don't know of any farms in your area. Best to check out and see who is closest to you.

    September 22nd, 2010 4:20 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Raine, you are so spot on here. The genetics is very much messed up. However, as one who has been drinking raw milk for many years I can tell you that even if the genetics of the jersey cows where I buy my milk is not pure, I feel a HUGE difference between when I drink that milk or eat jersey cheese and when I eat or drink holstein milk or cheese. The genetics may not be pure, but it sure makes a difference anyway to seek out old fashioned cows.

    September 22nd, 2010 4:18 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    We aren't doing milk right now but when we do, we will do raw goat's milk because it's always A2.

    When I got raw milk, I got the milk from a farm that had swiss brown cows and they did not produce entirely A2 milk.

    This is just another reason we shouldn't mess with our food sources. Before breeding all cow's milk was A2. I honestly think it'd be hard to find any cows now that produces only A2 milk.


    September 22nd, 2010 4:02 pm Reply
  • Chris

    "Dr. Tom Cowan MD wrote an excellent article published by The Bovine" Wait a second!

    Dr. COWan/The Bovine <—coincidence?? sounds almost too good to be true! LOL

    September 22nd, 2010 3:22 pm Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I purposely asked our farmer what kind of cows he had, for this reason. Guernsey was the answer so I was satisfied we were getting what we needed. :) (Of course it's raw, grass-fed, etc. too.) This is just another reason why you should know your source!

    September 22nd, 2010 3:19 pm Reply
  • Raine Saunders

    Hi Sarah – I wrote an article series about raw milk and after I posted these I learned from the farmer where we get our raw milk that most of the breeds in the world now are obliterated beyond recognition and produce A1 milk – even Jersey, Guerneys, and other heirloom breeds. This disturbed me greatly, as it makes me realize that this would mean that most grass fed milk from small, sustainable farms is not A2. The farmer who sells our milk is also an attorney and has worked tirelessly in our state to secure the availablilty of clean, raw milk, and I respect his opinion greatly. But it really makes me realize that our margins with real food are getting narrower and narrower, just when you think you've got it figured out…some new piece of information comes along! What are your thoughts about this?

    I am currently reading my complimentary copy of The Devil in The Milk by Keith Woodford, which was sent to me by Chelsea Green Publishing last week. This book is fascinating and has a great deal of useful information about this topic. It's such a complicated subject, sometimes the information makes my head spin! I highly recommend it to anyone.

    September 22nd, 2010 3:05 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Hi Sarah, the milk we get is from Dutch Belted Dairy Cattle. The cream line is never half way but usually a quarter of a gallon. It is A-2 milk. Have you heard of these cows?

    September 22nd, 2010 2:44 pm Reply
    • Mandy

      We keep a family cow – a Dutch Belted – because we don’t need a lot of cream, don’t like having to shake the milk to blend it each time, find it easier on our taste buds and tummies (It’s A-2, small globule fat), and they convert grass better than most, so don’t need grain, and are light on the environment when managed on rotational grazing. Heritage breeds have a lot to offer. To me the choice is far more than Jersey v Holstein; it’s about farming practices and breed resilience, too.

      July 3rd, 2016 10:08 am Reply
  • Anonymous

    I have not yet located a place to buy milk. Publix has nothing good! What do you suggest I use just for cooking pancakes and making muffins? I am still researching farms in my area. (If you know of a good farm near Pensacola, Florida I am all ears!) Also, I have switched to healthy oils and I can tell a difference in the taste of the food. My husband even noticed this morning that the sweet potatoe pancakes tasted better (used coconut oil and butter)! Thank you so much for the info and the videos are very helpful. Gina B.

    September 22nd, 2010 1:48 pm Reply

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