Diet-conscious New Zealanders may soon be able to tuck into naturally "skimmed" milk thanks to a programme set up to breed a herd of cows that produce milk containing less than a third of the nomal levels of fat.
Scientists from a Biotech company called Vialactia discovered a Fresian cow, christened "Marge", that carries a mutant gene. As a result she produces milk containing only 1% fat, compared with the 3.5% fat normally found in whole milk. Her offspring also produce naturaly low-fat milk, indicating that the trait, which the scientists have yet to identify, is dominant. Another bonus is that the milk also contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and makes butter than spreads as easily as margarine even when it's cold. According the Vialactia chief scientist Russell Snell, the company expects to have the first commercial herd of cows supplying naturally low-fat milk and "ready-spready" butter by 2011.