Raw Milk of the Highest Quality
in Loudoun County Virginia, near Lovettsville
We will have cow shares available for sale in March 2016. If you'd like to buy shares, email email@example.com. Please put "Cow Share Wanted" in your subject line.
The only way to legally obtain raw milk in Virginia is to own a cow. If you join our cow share program, you will purchase a share of a herd of dairy cows. Then, you can have a dependable source of raw milk from your own cows. Our cow share program is set up so that it is legal for everyone involved so that your milk supply is unlikely to be disrupted by the government. To read about why some people are choosing raw milk, we suggest reading about real milk.
We feed NO grain. The cows that live here have access to pasture 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For most of the year, the cows enjoy grazing in our lush pastures of perennial grasses and clover. The cows also eat hay as needed.
Cows fed NO grain produce healthier milk than cows that are supplemented with even small amounts of grain. When cows are fed no grain, their milk contains "an ideal ratio of essential fatty acids or EFAs. There are two families of EFAs—omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that if your diet contains roughly equal amounts of these two fats, you will have a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, allergies, obesity, diabetes, dementia, and various other mental disorders." Milk from pastured cows also contains more vitamins, fat, and protein than milk from grain-fed cows.
Because we feed no grain, the cows produce far less milk than the typical modern American dairy cow. Grass-fed cows make two to three gallons of milk per day, whereas a grain-fed cow normally produces about 10 gallons per day. As the volume of milk production increases, the amount of fat, protein, and vitamins in the milk decreases. In other words, milk from grain-fed cows is a watered down version of the nutrient-dense healthy milk from pastured cows.
We are one of the few dairy operations in the country that feed no grain. About 85 to 95% of dairy herds are confinement operations, where the cows are housed on feedlots and eat no pasture. The remaining 5 to 15% of dairy herds that are pastured are also fed grain. Dairy marketers sometimes refer to grain as "feed," "vegetarian-feed," "local feed," etc. When shopping for dairy products, be sure to ask if the cows are grain-free and remember that even a small amount of grain profoundly affects the quality of the milk!
Being grain-free is one of the biggest reasons why milk on our farm costs more to produce than grain-fed milk from the grocery store or competing cow share programs. We consider being grain-free to be the single most important factor in choosing the healthiest milk possible. You get what you pay for!
Graze on Pastures Managed Organically
Our cows graze on pastures that we manage according to organic standards. We use management intensive grazing for optimal health of both the cows and our land. We use pastured poultry for fly control. We do not use routine dewormers, which damage the beneficial dung beetle community.
Your cows will never be fed soy. Our entire farm is a soy-free operation, unlike most American dairy farms where soy is a major protein source for the cows.
Your cows will never be fed any GMO crops.
NO Growth Hormones
Your cows will never be given growth hormones.
Guernseys are a rare heritage breed of cows renowned for their rich, creamy milk that contains more beta-carotene than milk from other kinds of cows, giving the milk a golden color and extra vitamins. By owning a share of a herd of Guernsey cows, you are doing your part to help preserve this rare breed.
Butter from our milk on the left and major store brand butter on the right. Butter that is more yellow contains more of some vitamins.
A2 Protein in Milk
Milk contains a variety of proteins, including casein. There are different types of casein proteins. Humans, sheep, goats, and the ancestors of cows all make milk containing the orginal A2 protein with none of the mutated A1 protein. In contrast, the vast majority of modern dairy cows produce milk containing the mutated A1 protein instead of the original A2 protein.
Some scientists now believe that drinking milk and other dairy products containing the mutated A1 protein is associated with a variety of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia. This is an emerging field of research and a growing health concern. Milk that contains the original A2 protein, instead of the mutated A1 protein, is widely available in New Zealand and Australia but not in the United States, due largely to lobbying by industrial agriculture. Over 90% of dairy cows in the United States are of the Holstein breed (black and white cows), which mostly produce milk with the mutated A1 protein. The producers of this milk don't want consumers to know about potential health risks of the milk with the mutated A1 protein that they produce.
While we make no claims of health benefits regarding our milk, we are committed to producing milk that is free of the mutated A1 protein. The cows in our cow share program were tested by the laboratory at University of California-Davis and found to carry two copies of the A2 protein gene, meaning that their milk contains the original A2 protein and none of the mutated A1 protein. To learn more about the possible health benefits of consuming milk with the A2 protein instead of the A1 protein, we recommend The Devil in the Milk http://www.amazon.com/Devil-Milk-Illness-Health-Politics/dp/1603581022.
Milk Stored in Glass Jars
We chill and store the milk in glass jars.
The cows are tested annually for Johnes, Brucellosis, and Tuberculosis. The milk is assessed daily for signs of mastitis. The milk is tested regularly for quality and safety.
The cows live a pampered, happy life here at Sunny Knoll EcoFarm. We have decades of experience caring for, managing, and milking dairy cattle. Our cows live the way cows are designed to live, walking around on pasture, eating grass, and being treated with kindness at all times. As you can see, the cow pictured below, Aris, enjoys being milked and stands still without even being tied up while she is milked.
How it Works
To join the program, you buy a share of the herd of dairy cows and then pay a monthly fee for boarding, feeding, managing, and milking the cows.
One share costs $20. We have guaranteed buy-back, so you can sell this back to us at any time (i.e. get your $20 back). After you buy a share, you truly own a part of the herd until you sell it back to us; we do NOT require you to keep buying the share every 6 months or year, the way some other cow share prorgrams do. The share price is a one-time investment; after you buy a share, you only have to pay for boarding fees.
The boarding fee is $13 per share per month. If you own one share, you will get about one quart of milk per week.
Examples of costs:
# of shares
Quarts milk per week
One-time, refundable cost of purchasing shares
Monthly fee for boarding and milking cows
Milk can be picked up at the farm in Lovettsville VA.
We do not currently deliver, but some of our cow share owners coordinate among themselves to share milk pick-up responsibilities. If you are interested in getting in contact with other cow share owners who may be able to help you out with milk pick-up, ask us about the list of people who have expressed interest in this.