Do Guernsey or Jersey Cows Produce Better Milk?
Dairy Legacy of the Channel Islands
Cows that originated from the Channel Islands, including the Guernsey and Jersey breeds, are universally accepted as producing the best milk in the world. Today, countries all over the world have large herds of both breeds. The question, however, that comes up again and again is which is better: Guernsey milk or Jersey milk?
Coming from Guernsey myself, many might accuse me of being biased towards Guernsey milk, but that is not true. I intend to look at all the information available in order to come up with an answer to the question of which breed produces the better milk overall.
Guernsey CowsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Guernsey Milk Facts
- Omega 3: Guernsey milk contains 3 times as much omega 3 as other milks.
- Beta casein A2: When tested in the UK, Guernsey milk had more than 95% A2, compared with 40% A2 in Jersey milk and 15% in 'ordinary milk'.
- 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.
- Other benefits: Guernsey milk contains 12% more protein, 30% more cream, 33% more vitamin D, 25% more vitamin A and 15% more calcium than other milks. On average it contains 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.
Jersey CowsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Jersey Milk Facts
- Higher milk solids: Skimmed or low fat still has the taste of whole milk due to its higher solids—not fat content.
- Vitamins: Jersey milk has been shown to contain more Vitamins A and Vitamins B1 per litre than Holstein milk. In addition, it has an extremely high concentration of B2 (riboflavin).
- Nutrition: Jersey's provides the most nutrition per given unit of volume. If a person were consuming Holstein low-fat milk, 9.64 ounces would need to be consumed in order to receive the same amount of nutrition from consuming 8 ounces of Jersey's.
- Other benefits: Jersey milk contains 18% more protein, 20% more calcium and 25% more butterfat than average (a butterfat level up to about 6.8%).
General Facts About Channel Islands Milk
Professor Woodford compares studies of heart disease in countries which consume A1 and countries which consume A2 and finds a strong correlation between consumption of A1 milk and heart disease.
He also finds a correlation between heart disease and type 1 diabetes. He suggests that A1 milk may be implicated in a range of other physical and mental problems.
If the different types are taken into account, this could (rather than the red wine hypothesis) explain why both the French and the Masai, whilst having high dairy diets, have comparatively low levels of heart disease. In each case, those persons would appear to consume only A2 milk. The Finns, on the other hand, have high dairy diets but consume predominantly A1—and have high levels of heart disease.
There have also been claims that the A2 milk could be beneficial to autistic children, but firm proof is so far lacking.
Question: What breeds of dairy cattle typically produce the lowest percentage of A1 milk?
Answer: Ranking of breeds based on published research shows that the ranking is as shown below for the six most common dairy breeds from least to most A1 genetics (from least to most for potential BCM7 production with digestion).
Breeds Producing the Lowest Percentage A1 Milk
2. Brown Swiss
3-5. Ayrshire, Jersey, Milking Shorthorn (three-way tie)
Gold Top and Breakfast Milk are unique in that It comes exclusively from pedigree herds of Jersey and Guernsey cows, usually referred to by the dairy trade as "Channel Islands milk".
Channel Island milk is rich and creamy yet is still only 5% fat. It tastes delicious as a drink in its own right, and anything made with Channel Island milk also takes on this superiority.
The quality of the milk produced by these amazing, creatures is unsurpassed – it is rich, creamy and golden as well as naturally high in protein and calcium.
Approximate Nutrition Levels in Tesco Finest Channel Island Milk
- Energy kCal 80kCal
- Energy KJ 335kJ
- Protein 3.7g
- Carbohydrate 4.7g
- of which sugars 4.7g
- Fat 5.2g
- of which saturates 3.4g
- Fibre 0.0g
- Sodium 0.1g
A1 and A2 Levels by Cattle Breed
Looking at all the evidence, I have to honestly say I don't think there is an actual answer to the question. The problem is that we all look for different qualities, therefore what qualifies as making one better than another; is it the taste, the health factor, the versatility or something else?
I have spoken to people who have drunk both types on many occasions, and I have to say the majority seemed to prefer the taste of Guernsey milk. Guernsey's can boast the higher levels of A2, Omega 3 and Beta Casein and is said to have the better overall 'balance' of nutrients compared to Jersey's.
Jersey milk, on the other hand, has an extremely high level of riboflavin, provides the most nutrition per unit of volume and their low fat still has the taste of whole milk. The fat globules are the largest of any dairy breed. Because of the large globules, the cream rises faster and churns far quicker than cream from other breeds.
I honestly can't call this one fairly as I don't actually feel there is a correct answer to the question I asked. If you asked me personally to judge purely on taste alone I would say I prefer the Guernsey milk, but to be fair a blind taste test conducted over at least 50 individuals would probably be the best way to get a general consensus of opinion.
As for the nutrient levels, well, it appears to be a case of 'swings and roundabouts', one may have more of one nutrient and less of another, whilst the same situation may be reversed on the next nutrient. Perhaps this is why so much milk in the UK now is sold as "Channel Island Milk", and is actually a blend produced by both Guernsey and Jersey cows, therefore producing a perfect all-round balance.
Living in Guernsey we can mainly only buy Guernsey milk (and I love it), but on the occasions I visit Jersey I love theirs too and have no problem with enjoying it in much the same way I enjoy the Guernsey product.
My advice would therefore be this: If you live in a part of the world where you have a choice over buying either of these, whichever you choose you won't be disappointed, but as an experiment do try to buy one of each kind so that you can conduct your own personal taste test, and then decide for yourselves which you and your family prefer.