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July 2007

Cows in New Zealand Produce Low-Fat Milk Naturally

Scientists in New Zealand have identified a low-fat producing cow they have named Marge. The Friesian cow’s milk contains about 1 percent fat and is the result of a naturally occuring genetic mutation, according to Vialactia, the biotechnology company that discovered Marge’s unique trait.

“Marge is unique because a natural variation in her genetic makeup reduces the amount of fat in her milk,” explained Vialactia chief scientist Russell Snell.

“Her milk is also reduced in saturated fatty acids and higher in omega 3 fatty acids, while butter made from her milk is spreadable straight from the fridge.”

Snell said Marge is a normal cow in every way, except for her low-fat milk production.

Snell told the New York Times in May that scientists do not yet know which chemical pathway causes the low-fat milk, but offspring from the cow also produce low-fat milk, showing the genetic trait is dominant. He also said Marge was purchased by Vialactia, a subsidiary of the Fronterra Cooperative group, for 300 New Zealand dollars ($218 U.S.).
Vialactia said any commercial development is a long way off, but the company is breeding a herd of naturally low-fat producing cows that could be supplying milk and butter by 2011.

 

 

 

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