If you would like to purchase a share after reading the info below, just click here. We look forward to supplying you with fresh, raw milk.
If you are currently a shareholder and would like to make changes to your account, please click here. Please note that our online system does not accommodate drop site changes or vacation notifications. Those requests can be made by emailing us.
Here's the scoop on the cowshare program...
In Virginia, it is illegal to buy and sell raw milk (as in unpasteurized, fresh-from-the-cow milk). But it is not illegal to drink fresh milk from the cow that you own! Think of it - owning your own cow and boarding it at a local farm. You may visit your cow at any time. The farmer performs a service for you by feeding, caring for, and milking your cow. And you benefit by being able to utilize the milk. This is called cowboarding.
Here are some frequently asked questions about cowshares:
1. How is the cowshare program with Avery's Branch Farms set up?
You make a one-time payment of $100 to buy a share in the herd of Avery's Branch Farms' Jersey cows. In addition, you pay a $35 boarding fee each month for the feeding and care of your cow. Your share entitles you to one gallon of milk each week. You may buy as many shares as you would like. We also offer half shares, which entitle you to a half gallon of milk each week. They are half the price of a full share.
2. Are cowshares legal?
Yes, they are. It is not legal in this state to sell raw (unpasteurized) milk to the public. However, you may use as much raw milk as you wish from your own cow. Since you own a share in one of Avery's Branch Farms' cows, you may legally use the milk from your share in any way you see fit.
3. How should I handle the milk that is supplied to me?
The milk supplied will be raw--that is, it is not heat-treated or pasteurized. It will be chilled; and you should take care that it remains so until you can get it home and into your refrigerator. If you have some distance to drive or stops to make before you arrive home, it is imperative that you make provision with insulated containers and ice or chillers to keep the milk at refrigerator temperature until you return home. Milk should be kept in a refrigerator set at 35 degrees. It should not be left out for long periods at meal times.
4. How do I get my milk each week?
For those who wish to come to the farm to pick up their milk, a mutually agreed upon day and time will be assigned. We also have a variety of drop sites. There is a $10.85 monthly fee to have your milk delivered to a drop site.
5. What is the milk stored in?
Milk is delivered to the various pickup locations in plastic, disposable dairy jugs (#2 high density, quality grade) at a cost of $2.40 per month. Those shareholders who pick up at the farm may choose to have their milk stored in glass jars.
6. How do I buy a share?
If you would like to purchase a share, just click here. We look forward to supplying you with fresh, raw milk. Click here to see our contact info.
7. How long does raw milk last?
If milk is kept in a fridge set at 35 degrees, it should last for at least 7 - 10 days. If milk is not maintaining its freshness, here are a couple of things to consider:
~Be sure to monitor your fridge temp to ensure milk is being kept at 35 degrees (and don't keep milk in the door).
~Be sure to transport milk in a cooler with ice after picking up from the drop site.
~Be sure to not leave milk out at mealtime for long periods.
8. Do I have to find someone to take over my share if I move out of town?
You have no long-term commitment to the farm. Your share is transferable through gift or sale although you're not obligated to do either. Should you decide to discontinue participation in the cow share program, please let us know at least 14 days prior to the end of the month so we can remove you from the auto-billing system.
9. What happens to my milk when I'm on vacation?
We encourage you to let a friend or family member either enjoy your milk while you're away or freeze it for you so you can drink it when you return. If you'd rather we donate your milk to a family in need, just let us know. Refunds are not given since the shareholder's cow still needs to be boarded, milked, and cared for even when the owner is on vacation and not receiving milk.
10. What do the cows eat?
The most important part of their diet is the pasture grass on which they graze all day (and, in the winter, high quality hay). Premium forage produces the very best milk. Note that the pastures here are not fertilized with any chemical fertilizer. While being milked, the cows are given a small amount of organic or non-gmo grain supplement (for starch requirements). They also receive mineral supplement free choice and available at all times. Our cows never receive antibiotics or growth hormones in their feed.
11. How much milk do the cows give?
In contrast to more typical dairy breeds, Jersey cows give a smaller amount of milk which is higher in butterfat. Our cows are giving about three gallons each, per day. Please note that milk production varies with the season, the weather, the quality of the forage available; and the normal curve of the cow's lactation cycle.
12. Will the milk always taste the same each week?
A factor in the taste of the milk is the type of grass or hay (in winter) that the cows are eating. Various types of forage affect the taste of the milk - sometimes making it sweeter, sometimes creamier, sometimes off-tasting. Off tasting milk is not yummy to drink but still good for you. Please see our recipe page for some ideas of what to do with milk that isn't delicious for drinking.
13. Will the births of the calves have an impact on milk supply available to cowshare owners?
Yes, they might. During the final 6-8 weeks of a cow's pregnancy, she should be allowed to be "dry" (not being milked) because she is putting so much of her body's resources into growing the calf. During high calving seasons, there may well be times when we cannot supply you with milk in the normal amounts or on the usual schedule. We will do our very best; and ask for your understanding and cooperation.
14. Do you have a website you recommend for further research about the benefits of raw milk?
15. Do you offer skim or fat free milk?
No, we don't. The cream is an important fat for your body. It's fine to skim the cream off the top of the milk and use it for other recipes, but be sure the cream finds its way into your diet. We never recommend skimming the cream and throwing it out.
16. Do you have any suggestions for milk that is a couple of weeks old and has gone sour?
It's always good to remember that unlike pasteurized milk, raw milk gets better for you the older it gets. The probiotic properties in raw milk continue to multiply as the milk ages. (i.e.: the increased health benefits of yogurt) Click here to see some of our family's favorite recipes for using up old milk. Also, a wonderful educational cookbook for learning how to use raw milk is Sally Fallon's "Nourishing Traditions."