Benefits of
barn air and cow's milk

Translated from the article Gesund durch Stalluft und Kuhmilch BauernZeitung , 22. Oktober 2015, Nr. 43

"Numerous studies have shown that barn air and untreated cow's milk have a positive effect on protection against asthma and allergies. Happy are all the children who grew up on a farm and had the chance to live their holidays on the farm".


Herwig (18), Michael (15) and Christofer (14) – now young adults – never catch a cold and rarely get sick. And have no allergies. They grew up on a farm. As soon as they could walk, they stood in the barn with their rubber boots, consumed “straight from the cow” and played outside for hours. One has nothing to do with the other? Admittedly, this alone does not guarantee a perfectly healthy life, but there are links. His mother Silke Antensteiner, a farmer in Vorderstoder (Upper Austria), is convinced of this. And now there is scientific evidence to back it up.


The "firm effect" is scientifically proven

Erika von Mutius, professor of pediatrics and working at the "Haunersche Children's Hospital" of the University Hospital of Munich, is involved in research in this area. She reports: “Many studies now show that children who grow up on a farm, compared to neighborhood children in the same village, suffer much less often from asthma and hay fever and have higher rates of allergies. significantly lower: “Two factors were identified as very important: staying in the barn and consuming untreated raw milk. Timing is also crucial. "The clear effects are particularly evident when there was already contact in the first year of life," says von Mutius. Even before birth


Raw cow's milk is an effective remedy

In addition to staying in the barn, the consumption of raw, unprocessed milk plays an important role in protecting against asthma and allergies. If the milk is boiled before consumption, the effect disappears. Von Mutius: “Whey protein has been clearly shown to be associated with protection against asthma and allergic diseases. However, Mutius does not want the results to be misinterpreted. Raw milk also contains pathogens that pose possible risks of illness, especially in children not growing up on a farm. Science needs to clarify in more detail which protective factors exist in milk. Researchers are already working with dairy companies to find new ways to drink milk (such as


A chance for farm holidays

It goes without saying that these discoveries fit perfectly into the "Agritourism" route. Silke Antensteiner is also convinced of this. Not only were her children always with her in the barn and yard from an early age, but she also tries to involve her guests as best as possible. Together with her husband Hubert, she runs the Zamsegg children's and baby farm in Vorderstoder. Farms for children and babies are a specialization of the "farm holiday" route that meets their needs. Silke and Hubert Antensteiner attach great importance to children being able to help. They are just as enthusiastic about making jam in the kitchen as cleaning up dung from the barn and may even try to milk.

A total of 14 different animal species - from dairy cows and upland cattle to donkeys and pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, geese, dogs and cats - want to be cared for on the farm.


Silke Antensteiner grew up in the city of Linz and can therefore meet the needs of her guests very well because she "knows both sides". With commitment and enthusiasm, she tries to teach children a "normal and simple" approach to agriculture, nature and "being a child" in general: "I also tell the guests that it is not a problem In any case, Silke Antensteiner, who is also spokesperson for the children's and baby farms in the Kalkalpen National Park region, wants to take the opportunity to increasingly include these proven effects on health in the marketing of farm holidays for babies and toddlers, but also for pregnant women. we could score particularly well in the offseason. Because you can also go on vacation with babies and small children during school hours. But the owners still have to be convinced of the concept.


Role of ambassador and educational mission

Antensteiner sees great potential for farm holidays to be an ambassador for agriculture and thus contribute to its good image. How the animals are looked after, how the food is produced, how the work is done on the farm and why there are also subsidies for agriculture. "There are a lot of questions," says Antensteiner, "from children, but also from adults." Without a doubt, there is a lot of work behind "Holidays on the farm". But when the holiday kids come to see her in the morning - while their parents are still asleep - want to help her out and get the eggs for breakfast straight from the hens in the barn, then she knows: she's done something right.

The farm - effect

What the science says

The firm effect is one of the most reproducible and consistent epidemiological signals in allergy research. It is essentially determined by two components: the stay in the barn and the consumption of untreated cow's milk.

Timing is crucial: only if there is this “contact” early in life, before or after birth, can an influence on the development of allergic diseases and asthma be recognised.

Influence before birth: If the mother remains in the barn during pregnancy, the development of neurodermatitis in the child at the age of one to two years is reduced by about a third. In addition, cells from the umbilical cord blood of newborns whose mothers worked in the barns of the farm produce more immune messenger substances that are effective against the development of allergies.


Source: Prof. Erika von Mutius, Hauner Children's Hospital, University Hospital Munich