What Are the Reasons for Lactose Intolerance?
We hear it over and over. “Struggling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome”. “I have lactose intolerance”. “I use milk substitute for my child”. Milk allergy seems to be a problem. And it is. But how did our forefathers live with drinking milk? They never saw the dairy cases in supermarkets filled with pseudo milk alternatives. Names of milk substitute choices such as oat milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, and almond milk did not exist. But do these milks really hold similar value to real milk? Could an infant live and grow one of these so called milks? Or perhaps this setting presents a not-so-long future health disaster for humanity? Or what about A2 milk that calls consumers to give it a try?
A Different Dairy Industry
The dairy industry in America presents something different than that of 250 years ago. Back then the milk was real milk. The cows grazed on fresh grasses. then they came into the barn for milking. then again returned back out into the pastures to rest and graze some more. Or if it was too cold, they would enjoy laying on the deep bedded straw in the warmer barn with the other livestock. Mass concentration was unheard of.
And the milk from the cow was simply a few gallons. Did they ever dreamed of milking over 23 gallons of milk from 1 cow in one day? With a natural diet cows produced a nutrient dense food that parents could count on for nourishing the family. They depended on milk as a source of vitamins and minerals for their own health as well.
But do you realize what has happened to the volume of milk a cow produces? In 1950, the average milk cow in America produced about 2 gallons per day (5,300 lbs. annually). Now recent reporting says that in 2018, average per cow annual milk production stands at 23,149 lbs. If a cow is milking for 10 months out of that year that would give us the amount of almost 9 gallons a day. This is an increase of 12.6% increase since 2009. But compare this 9 gallons of milk with that of 2 gallons per day in 1950! Which would you choose? Is there going to be any less nutritional value in the 9 gallons versus the 2 gallons? Is the cow actually able to consume enough more well balanced food to equally increase the output of quality milk?
Astounding Accomplishments Via Genetic Selective Breeding
Now think with me just a bit more about massive volumes of milk. In 2017 a prize-winning cow named Selz-Pralle Aftershock 3918 produced the amazing amount of 78,170 lbs. of milk! A world record! That is 9,089 gallons of milk in one year from 1 cow! Amazing? Wonderful? Depends on your perspective.
But consider just a bit more. Now if she was milking for 365 days that would have been 24.9 gallons per day. But most cows only produce milk around 10 months. And then they have a dry period (6-8 weeks). They rest their bodies in preparation for giving birth to another calf. And so, she was producing milk for 300 days. That would calculate that she produced an average of 30- gallons of milk per day!
Great Success or a Deep Problem?
Selective breeding. That has produced Poodles and Great Danes. We have chickens that grow so fast their legs cannot hold up their body weight within just a few weeks. And we have cows that can produce buckets of milk in 1 day! Yes selective breeding may seem to have yielded great gains but . . . Really?
Did you know that the Holstein cows hold such a small pool of genes that it is thought that if they are subject to possible extinction? And this now inspires some researchers to consider how they can add more unrelated animals into the gene pools without comprising the attributes of massive milk volumes.
In fact, only 2 bulls from the 1960’s hold the majority role of ancestors to the nine million Holstein cows in America.
Some dairymen today may not remember as well as their fathers did of the great heroic name of Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation, sired by a bull that was highly inbred. And this famous bull known as Elevation, had a maternal grand father with a serious genetic mutation causing bovine LAD, or leukocyte adhesion deficiency. This discovery in 1989 shows the seriousness of selective gene pooling back in the 50’s and 60’s up until now.
Nor are they well acquainted with the once considered great sire Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief .
Yes, they considered him a great success. He had 1,600 daughters, 500,000 granddaughters and over 2 million great granddaughters. But wait. The dairy industry lost over 420 million dollars due to a deadly mutation from this bull. More than 500,000 calves died unborn in the womb. This created a great loss to the farmers; destructive to the cow health and production of milk. And then additionally, there were serious complications of conceptions within this genetic line that eventually lead to some investigation. Studies in 2011 uncovered the apoptosis peptide activating factor 1 gene, or APAF1 for short. This mutation involved a shortened the fatty acid chain of the protein.
APAF1 Mutation Or A1 Mutation?
As I was researching for this article, I kept wondering is there is an association between these 2 mutations? I could not seem to find clear cut details on line. And so I contacted Keith Woodford. He responded:
“I can now confirm that these two issues are unrelated. Separate mutaitons with separate effects. However, the Apaf1 mutation does illustrate how a ‘bad gene’ can profilerate very quickly as a result of intensive selection and inbreeding. Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief had oustanding production characteristics and his lineage can be found in most Friesian cattle. The negative effect through a higher than normal rate of abortions was not picked up for some 40 years.
People often ask how can the A1 variant of beta-casein has become so common. The answer is in the same way as the APaf1 variant became common despite powerful negative effects, but with those negative effects not being recognised.
Once humans get involved with animal breeding using techniques such as A1 and embryo transplants, there is scope for big improv