It’s herd to believe, but the reputation of Jersey cows is teat-ering on the brink of controversy yet again in India, as a livestock authority claim the breed produces disease-causing milk.
Despite being famous for their calcium-rich and creamy milk, and a dearth of evidence suggesting any negative health side effects, Jersey cows are facing moos and hisses from Bijnor’s government's Animal Husbandry Department who claim that their milk is poisonous and can cause incurable conditions like autism, schizophrenia and diabetes.
Bijnor, which is a district in the Indian state home to the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh, has seen a rise in the import of foreign cattle, but the area’s authority on livestock are urging farmers to be wary of Jersey dairy.
Pictured: Livestock officials in Bijnor, a district of the Indian state Uttar Pradesh, are urging farmers not to rear foreign cattle including Jersey cows.
Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Bhupendra Singh told The Times of India: “The numbers of foreign cows including Holstein, Jersey, HF cow etc., are increasing here. A senior scientist at [the] National Countil of Agriculture in his research has proved that Beta Casein A1 protein is found in their milk which causes incurable diseases including diabetes, heart diseases, autism, schizophrenia, sudden infant death syndrome, etc." It isn't clear which "senior scientist" Mr Singh is referring to.
However, Bijnor’s CVO said that Indian cows do not pose this risk and are, in fact “anti-poison”. He continued: “On the other hand, Beta Casein A2 protein which is found in most of the Indian cows like Gyre, Red Sindhi, Sahiwal, is anti-poison. The National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources, Karnal, recently conducted a study where they found that most of the Indian breeds have Beta Casein A2 protein.”
This is not the first time that Jersey cows have fallen victim to the moo-mur mill in India as locals in another region, Tamil Nadu, claimed that the Channel Island breed were destroying the ozone layer and stealing native ‘desi’ cows’ jobs.
Pictured: Bijnor's Chief Veterinary Officer has beef with Jersey cows and says that the native desi cow's milk has curative health properties.
Officials in Bijnor have reportedly said they will be launching an awareness campaign soon to outline the pros and cons of the foreign breeds in the area.
Despite this cattle prattle, farmers in the region have said that they will continue to farm foreign breeds like the Jersey cow as they make the most business sense. One local farmer told The Times of India: “Foreign cow gives more milk than Indian cows. Therefore, we are rearing them. We do not know about the quality standard of a foreign cow, but we know that it is economically beneficial for us.”
The more negative views also run in contrast to those of Rwanda.
The country has been enjoying the benefits of the Jersey Overseas Aid-backed Girinka Programme, which has seen nearly a quarter of a million cows distributed to vulnerable families since 2006.
Jersey-crossed cows are favoured because they are able to produce up to eight times more milk than the native species. Their milk is also more calcium-rich, meaning that it is boosting lives, while selling it is also boosting the economy of one of the world's poorest countries.
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It is regrettable that one of our best media outlets has produced an article which raises many concerns but has chosen to litter it with purile puns.
In a country where so many millions of children are mal-nourished the calcium rich Jersey milk is a huge benefit and is favoured by Indian farmers because of higher milk yields. However, recent claims that Jersey milk ‘ causes autism, schizophrenia and sudden infant death syndrome” are quite fantastic and alarming. As a proud Jersey-man I am appalled that our cows reputation is being compromised but I am more concerned about the health of India’s children. Rather than read an article so full of puns, a learned opinion and rebuttal from our States Vet would seem to be more appropriate.