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
Here are some frequently asked
questions about cowshares:
1. How is
the cowshare program with Avery's Branch Farms set
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
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
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
4. How do I get my
milk each week?
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 is delivered in plastic,
disposable dairy jugs (#2 high density, quality
grade) at a cost of $.55 per jug.
6. How do I buy
Simply email or call to let
us know how many shares you need, which drop site
you'd like to have your milk delivered to, and
when you'd like to get started. Please
provide a credit card number so you can be billed
for your boarding automatically each
7. How long does raw
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:
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
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
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
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
or non-gmo grain supplement (for
starch requirements). They also receive mineral
supplement free choice (available at all times).
Our cows never receive antibiotics or growth
hormones in their feed.
11. How much milk do
the cows give?
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
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?
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
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