Considerations for Drinking Raw Milk and the Threat of Leucosis and Johnes Disease

| 11/22/2016 9:35:00 AM

Tags: home dairying, milk, dairy cows, food safety, raising livestock, Steve Judge, Vermont,


Personally, I have absolutely no doubt that raw milk that comes from healthy cows and is properly handled and cooled is safe — period! Just remember to shake the container in your refrigerator once in a while.

If you are trying raw milk for the first time, ease into the tasting. It is so delicious you might be tempted to drink too much! Give your digestive system time to adjust.


Threat of Leucosis and Johnes Disease

Unfortunately there are other very real public health concerns regarding the safety of the milk supply in the U.S. Two bovine diseases are quickly spreading through dairy herds across the nation. One is a virus, commonly known as Leucosis or Leukosis, and the other is a bacterial infection commonly called Johnes. Both can be fatal for dairy cattle and the infection rate in the U.S. is extremely high, likely close to 90% for both diseases.

Currently, they are officially not considered to be an economic threat to dairy herds in the United States because both diseases are not always fatal and if they are it usually takes more than 5 years for an infected and sickened cow to die. The average lifespan of a cow on a commercial dairy is 4.5 years.

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