Michael Schmidt’s pasteurized and raw milk calf trial, and “Pottenger’s Cats”

Cowshare member Gary Wilson provides some useful scientific perspective on Michael Schmidt’s recent “Tale of Two Calves” experiment:

Picture via "I can haz cheeseburger" website

Michael Schmidt’s Tale of Two Calves and Pottenger’s Cats

In his report of the results of feeding one calf raw milk and one calf pasteurized milk, Michael mentions a study done by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., M.D. The results of this study are published by the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation in a book called “Pottenger’s Cats, A Study In Nutrtion”,

From the introduction of this book, “Between the years of 1932 and 1942, Dr. Francis Marion Pottenger, Jr., conducted a feeding experiment to determine the effects of heat-processed food on cats.” This study was conducted on 900 cats of which 600 had complete, recorded health histories. Experimental cats received a diet of two thirds cooked food with one third raw food, along with cod liver oil. Control cats were fed a similar diet of all raw food, along with cod liver oil.

Some experimental cats were fed a diet of two thirds cooked meat, one third raw milk and the cod liver oil supplement. Some cats were fed a diet of two thirds cooked milk (pasteurized, sweetened condensed or evaporated), one third raw meet and the cod liver oil supplement. Control cats were kept on similar diets with both the two thirds and one third portions being raw. While the results are too long to be documented here, they demonstrated that whichever diet the raw food cats were on, they remained healthy generation after generation. The cats on the either diet containing  the two thirds cooked portion, however, suffered a variety of different conditions which could best be described as paralleling the diseases of civilization. Pottenger made no attempt to correlate the changes in the animal condition with human conditions.

One of the differences may be of more significance today than when the experiment was done. Generation after generation, the cats on the raw food diets showed no evidence of allergies. The cats given cooked meat or milk, however, developed all kinds of allergies. Quoting from the book, “They sneeze, wheeze and scratch. They are irritable, nervous and do not purr.” The incidence of allergies increased with each generation and by the third generation the incidence was almost 100%. One kitten developed asthama.

Of significance were two extra studies done by Pottenger. The first concerned the feed for the cattle producing the raw milk. In the main study, the milk for the cats on the diet of two thirds raw milk with one third raw meat control group came from cows on fresh feed. When Pottenger substituted raw milk from cows on dry feed, he found that the cats suffered similar deficiencies as the cats fed two thirds pasteurized milk with one third raw meat. The second extra study was done after the main study was finished. The pens that enclosed the cats had six foot fencing and  a well-washed quartz sand base. The only fertilizer in this infertile medium was cat manure and urine. After a period with the cats no longer in the pens, it was noted that few weeds grew in the pens where the female cats had been on two thirds cooked milk with one third raw meat, but where the female cats had been on two thirds raw milk with one third raw meat, the pens were covered with a single species of weed. This observation prompted a test planting of two rows of a dwarf white beans in each of the pens. The soil scientist, William Albrecht, Ph.D., explains in a paper published in Chapter 11 of Volume II of “The Albrecht Papers”, “Wherever the cats’ diet contained the heated milks, the plant growth characteristics were those which one would call the bush or dwarf kind of bean. Where the buried dung from the cats fed the raw milk was the fertilizer, the plants were like pole beans with vines climbing the screened sides as high as six feet. Here were decided differences in the growth behaviours of the plants, not because of the claims of the plant breeder, but contrary to them and because of the heat treatment in the feed (in some not to exceed 140 F for half hour) going into the animals making the manure which fertilized the soil growing them.” Albrecht noted that the beans harvested from the plants grown in the soil fertilized with dung from cats fed heated milk were observed to have a fecal odour but there was no such odour in the beans harvested from the plants grown in the soil fertilized with dung from cats fed raw milk. Albrecht explained that this difference was related to indole and the conversion of this remnant of tryptophane back into tryptophane . He concluded, “Tryptophane may  be more fundamental in the minutia of reproduction, like the genes and chromosomes, than we yet believe.”

In Michael’s demonstration of calves fed either the raw milk or the pasteurized milk, the milk fed to the two different calves was not from the same source. The raw milk fed to one calf came from his low production dairy herd. The pasteurized milk fed to the other calf was purchased from a store. This milk was not only pasteurized and homogenized but it would have come from a typical modern high production dairy herd producing twice as much milk or more per cow. While the demonstration leaves no doubt that there were differences in the two calves, it would be impossible to tell if the differences in the two calves fed the different milk were due to the pasteurization of the milk, the homogenization of the milk, or to differences related to the widely differing production levels in the cows producing the milk. Both the calves came from Michael’s herd. A comparison of calf mortality and the health records of Michael’s herd with a typical high-production dairy herd would suggest that the calves from Michael’s herd are born healthier. All this does not mean that the demonstration was of no scientific value. Rather, it suggests that the very interesting results should be followed my further research on a bigger scale.

A followup study could be done on eight calves to take into account the variables. Four calves could come from Michael’s herd and four could come from a high-production dairy herd. No homogenized milk should be used in the study as this is an investigation of the pasteurization of milk. In each group of four calves, one calf would be fed raw milk from Michael’s farm; one would be fed pasteurized milk from Michael’s farm; one would be fed raw milk from a high-production dairy farm; and the final calf would be fed pasteurized milk from the same high-production dairy farm. Small pasteurization units are available to pasteurize milk right on the farm. It should be very interesting to see how each of the four calves would do in each of the two groups. It would be best if the four calves from the high-production dairy herd should come from the same herd supplying milk for the test.

In his comparison of the two calves, Michael did not test the calf manure for its value as fertilizer. Based on the results of the Pottenger Cat Study, it would be interesting to save separately the manure from each of the eight calves and use it as fertilizer in a potted plant test with otherwise uniform soil in each of the pots. Dwarf beans or dwarf peas could be the test plants.

Since results in Michael’s Tale of Two Calves indicate there are likely nutritional differences in the different milks used, milk samples in such a follow-up study could be tested for the fat soluble vitamins A and D and, using Albrecht’s explanation of the dwarf bean experiment, they could be tested for tryptophane. The beans or peas grown in the various manures might also be tested for some nutrient contents.

The final big question is, “Who should fund this follow-up study?” This study, although small, is much bigger than Michael’s first two calf demonstration. The financial burden for Michael’s two calf demonstration was more than this individual farmer should have carried alone for a test that might eventually benefit the entire population. Would the dairy industry fund it? Although the dairy industry would likely benefit in the long run from studies along this line, it is unlikely that they would change their position now to fund the study. Remember, however, the doctors in Saskatchewan opposed medicare by going on strike. If you were to remove medicare from Saskatchewan now the doctors would likely go on strike again. Should the government fund it? Although you may think the government is there for the people who elect them, it may actually be that the politicians are there primarily for those who contribute to their political campaigns. One should not be surprised if the government is more interested in protecting the dairy industry than the people who elect them. Perhaps the best answer for funding is to have individuals fund it in a similar way to the way in which President Obama was funded by so many small contributions from the electorate. I am sure Michael could work out the costs involved to conduct such a study. As they do in public TV, you might want to send a pledge to Michael to allow him to see if there would be enough total pledges to enable doing the study. I expect Michael would also keep the contributors informed as to the progress of the study. Contributors could share this with their friends and say, “Hey, I helped make this possible.”


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2 responses to “Michael Schmidt’s pasteurized and raw milk calf trial, and “Pottenger’s Cats”

  1. nedlud

    Let’s start a fund.

    For studying why people become morose, give up and die.

    Instead of helping them to live.

    After all, we don’t really know….we haven’t been given permission by ‘science’.

    So let’s start a fund, do a study, and find out.


    Science has all the answers.


    Or the next day.

    Or the next day after that.

  2. Piglits

    if we are feeding our calves from cows that are on medication will they develope the sickness that the cows being treated have

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