Mare’s healthy milk? Europeans expect horses to be an ancient remedy

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A foal nurses from a mare at the Lindenhof Stud in Brandenburg, Germany. While mare's milk remains a niche product, its reputation as a health elixir is causing trouble for European producers in a more regulated age.

Mare’s healthy milk? Europeans expect horses to be an ancient remedy
Goat milk. Goat milk. Soy milk. Almond milk. Today, the shelves of grocery stores are filled with alternatives to dairy products. But in Europe, people’s interest in milk is growing from surprising sources: horses.

Although the idea of ​​sipping mare milk may sound unusual to Western readers, it has become a traditional staple food in Central Asia, where it is often fermented into “koumiss,” a mild alcoholic beverage at 19 In the middle of the century, it was adopted by Russian doctors to treat tuberculosis. Compared with the authors, Anton Chekhov and Lev Tolstoy, who swear by their healing abilities, the patients are not inferior. In today’s Europe, breast milk is still a niche product, but its reputation as a health-long drug is causing trouble for producers in a more regulated era.

These include a dairy farm such as Lindenhof Stud, located in the lush countryside of Brandenburg, Germany, a 45-minute train ride from Berlin. An elegant bay, gray and chestnuts licking a purely sporty mare in my pocket. And their milk is not only consumed by their horses, but also consumed by humans. “We can’t start our own business until the end of socialism,” said Lindenhof’s boss, Siegfried Dug. “Then in 1991, we bought a mare to breed and milk.”

A foal nurses from a mare at the Lindenhof Stud in Brandenburg, Germany. While mare’s milk remains a niche product, its reputation as a health elixir is causing trouble for European producers in a more regulated age.

Manually milking 10 mares takes only half an hour a day and provides another source of income to complement boarding, horse riding holidays and the sale of farm award-winning horses.

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Peas for the dairy aisle: Can this milk replace the real deal of the competitor?
Each mare provides about one liter of spare milk a day, only when her offspring is around her, so the foal will stay with her mother until he is naturally weaned. The milk is quickly frozen at a speed of minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit at a rate of one-quarter litres and sold directly from the farm or through an organic grocery store. It is rich in vitamin C and iron, but has a low fat content, and lactose and casein are closer to human breast milk than milk. I didn’t have milk for me to taste when I went there, but fans said it has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor, such as almond milk.

There are only about 30 mare milk producers in Germany, and they are mainly distributed in Europe, mainly in the Netherlands, Belgium and France, although few countries have national associations and no pan-European organizations. Dörge follows the same German regulations as the production of certified raw milk, just as he does for raw milk from cattle, goats and sheep, he constantly tests for impurities.

His vigilance made the milk at a cost of nearly 10 euros (or nearly 12 $) a liter, but he came from Hanover as much as possible, some two hours away, the stock rose. Usually customers take horse milk to relieve skin or digestive problems. Peer-reviewed papers show that breast milk can objectively improve atopic dermatitis or eczema. Some studies in rats have shown that koumiss can reduce the toxicity of mercury, while pure breast milk can enhance the immune response in rats.

However, despite the enthusiastic evaluation of certain manufacturers’ websites, no one has been able to determine any anti-inflammatory effects on the human digestive system. Siegfried Dörge had a customer who bought 20 years of mare milk from him. “If he stops drinking,” Dörge said. “He got a terrible eczema again.”

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a hundred-year-old cow used for high-tech plant milk cows
“If I can promote breastmilk as a drug, I might sell it three times,” Dörge told me, but EU regulations prohibit all food manufacturers from making therapeutic claims. He does not even allow links from his website to related research on breast milk.

“We are on the verge of a hurricane,” said Julie Decayeux. She is the only European manufacturer to sell fresh pasteurized breast milk, and she also exports milk powder to the world. The Belgian farmer established a horse milk product called Chevalait in Normandy, France in 2003 to protect the local horse breed Percheron, now one of the largest producers in Europe with 200 mares.

“After the Second World War, with the Marshall Plan, French farmers bought tractors and sold their horses,” Decayeux said. “Now there are nine horse racing breeds in France. They are very fragile. At Chevalait, we put the horses first. We are not making money from the horses. We are here to cultivate Percherons, this is the only way. Economically Working is milk.”

In any case, she added, if you don’t respect the horses, they won’t produce too much milk: “They don’t have genetic programming to produce milk like cows. You need to build relationships with them and let them share milk with you.”

At first, the mare’s milk is difficult to sell, and Decayeux participates in agricultural fairs and salons every weekend. But then the news spread and Chevalait built a market for himself. She broke the two youngest sons on the horse’s milk and used it to make a variety of cooking, from soy sauce to chia pudding.

According to Decayeux, about 40% of Chevalait customers are dealing with skin diseases such as psoriasis or eczema or Crohn’s disease, but 60% of parents are feeding babies who are allergic to milk.

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However, peer-reviewed studies have shown that breast milk can be a safe alternative to most children who are allergic to milk, but Chevalait cannot use it as a selling point. According to another EU regulation, food producers can only make nutritional claims for their products. If these statements are confirmed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) studies scientific claims and independently advises the EU.

Decayeux said she recently received a letter from a French official “tell me that I have to delete any wording on our website stating that breast milk is the milk closest to breast milk, otherwise the site will be closed.”

Mare’s milk producers want to see more scientific research on the potential medical benefits of their products, but the cost of this research is high, says Rainer Schubert, retired lecturer in human physiology and nutrition medicine, the president of the German Breast Milk Manufacturers Association, in an email. He calculated that any formal, rigorous medical research would cost about 350,000 euros [$412,000] and there would be no cost to the dairy industry of a large European mare.

There is already more science to support breast milk as a nutritional case for breastmilk substitutes – but Decayeux needs to jump out of more regulatory barriers before legally making these requirements. The farmer was not injured. In April, Chevalait visited Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy region of France, who wished to help save Percheron from extinction. In June, Decayeux spoke about breast milk for babies in the European Horse Network Working Group of the European Parliament in Brussels. The Normandy Horse Association will submit a file on the nutritional properties of breast milk to EFSA for verification. But she said that it takes two to three years for the producer to get official approval to sell breast milk for the baby.

Despite the delay, this tiny industry seems to be ready for change. In March 2017, the European Parliament voted to develop standards and inspection guidelines for European horses and yak farms, which Schubert believes will help. “This may increase awareness of breast milk and sales,” he said.

Julie Decayeux is still a fearless evangelist. “I am 52 years old now, it is very hard, so we are looking for partners to open up the market,” she said with a smile. “We ask people around the world to consider setting up a mare dairy farm in the US, South America, and Africa. Why not?”

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