Dairy Herd-Share Programs Brochure

CowShare2009This is the text of our DairyHerdShareTrifold Brochure (PDF).

A Campaign for Real Milk

Dairy Herd-Share Programs
and the Economics of Raw Milk

Gain Access to Unprocessed Dairy from Pasture-Fed Dairy Animals, Nature’s Perfect Food!
Help Save Local Dairy Farms!
Purchase a Share in a Dairy Animal or Dairy Herd!

Copyright © 2018 The Weston A. Price Foundation.
All Rights Reserved.

Why We Need Dairy Herd-Share Programs

Healthy Real Milk is available in stores in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington. In many other states you can buy milk directly from farmers at the farm.

However, in some states, such sales are illegal; a farmer can lose his or her Grade A  license and even go to jail for selling consumers unprocessed milk to consumers.

In many states where raw milk sales are illegal, consumers have been able to obtain raw milk directly from farmers by purchasing a share in a dairy animal or in the whole herd. Even in states where sales of raw milk are legal but a permit is required, share programs allow farmers to provide raw milk to consumers without the cumbersome and expensive requirements mandated by the state.

How Dairy Herd-Share Programs Work

The consumer buys an ownership interest in a dairy animal or herd. The consumer contracts with the farmer for his or her expertise to provide feed,
shelter and care to keep the animal(s) in good health. The farmer also provides the labor to milk the animal(s) and store the consumer’s milk.

Such contracts are legal in nearly every state in the U.S. “Agistment” is the legal term for boarding your livestock on another’s premises.

Because the milk is the consumers’ property through their ownership interest in the herd, the consumers do not buy milk from the farmer. Rather, they pay the farmer for the service of boarding and milking the animal(s) and for the labor to process the milk into butter, cream, cheese, etc.

The dairy share programs can lead to other business for the farmer. Consumers joining these programs will often buy other foods from the farm, such as eggs, vegetables, poultry and meat.

Guidelines for Share Owners

Before you buy any dairy shares, be sure that:

  • Dairy animals are fed mainly on pasture, hay and/or forage that is free of pesticides and herbicides, and preferably no soy or GMOs.
  • When a milking machine is used, the dairy animal’s teats are cleaned before attaching milking cups.
  • The milking shed and surroundings are clean, tidy and free of rodents and standing water.
  • Milk is kept chilled in a stainless steel tank or individual containers.
  • A milk sampling plan is followed to test for coliform and human pathogens.

The Economics of Dairy Farming

Conventional Small Dairy Economics

  • Thirty cows in a confinement situation.
  • Fed high-protein feed to push milk production.
  • Each cow produces 200 hundredweight per year.
  • Farmer receives about $12/hundredweight.
  • Gross income is $72,000.
  • No government subsidies (only big farms get those).
  • Costs are high:
    • Feed (grain, supplements, etc.)
    • Vet bills (cows are always sick)
    • Replacement cows (cows live only 42 months)
    • Artificial breeding (hard to get cows pregnant)
    • Interest on debt (capital to purchase expensive equipment).

Small dairy farmers cannot make a living on this model; there were 650,000 dairy farms in the U.S. in 1970 and only about 40,000 left today.

Dairy Herd-Share Program Economics

  • Thirty cows on 100 acres of pasture.
  • Lower production but healthier cows.
  • Cows produce 100 hundredweight per year.
  • Farmer sells milk for $4-$24 per gallon, equivalent to  $50-$300 per hundredweight.
  • Provides butter, cream and cheese for a price equivalent to at least $50/hundredweight.
  • Feeds whey and/or skim milk to chickens and pigs.
  • Gross income for milk & milk products is at least $150,000.
  • Gross income for eggs, chicken, pork, beef, and other products is at least $50,000.
  • Costs are low:
    • Feed cost minimal (sunlight is free!)
    • Vet bills are low (cows are healthy)
    • No replacement-cow costs (Cows breed easily, replace themselves, live 12-15 years)
    • Interest on debt much lower (not as many capital costs).


Why Consumers Want Real Milk

More and more consumers have trouble digesting commercial milk; many have allergies to modern milk products. Most commercial milk is actually an adulterated product that:

  • Comes from cows fed high-protein feed, which is totally inappropriate for cows and which makes the milk more difficult to digest and can cause it to be allergenic.
  • May contain pesticides, antibiotics, and synthetic hormones.
  • Is lacking in adequate fat needed for nutrient assimilation—milk from old-fashioned cows on pasture contains twice as much butterfat as modern milk labeled “whole” milk.
  • Is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized, processes that disrupt the enzymes, diminish nutrients, and denature many of the proteins in the milk.
  • Is susceptible to contamination because pasteurization destroys the many components in milk that kill bad bacteria.
  • Is homogenized, a process that violently breaks up the fat globules.
  • Contains contaminants, including harsh cleaning fluids used to clean the miles of pipes in modern milk factories.
  • Contains nonfat dry milk (added to reduced-fat milk),  a source of carcinogens, oxidized cholesterol, and free glutamic acid (MSG).

Many of these same consumers are discovering that they have no problems digesting unpasteurized (raw) whole milk from pasture-fed cows, sheep, goats or camels. In fact, such milk—called Real Milk—provides numerous health benefits. It is Nature’s perfect food, especially beneficial for growing children and those who are recovering from serious illness.

Dairy herd-share programs are saving small farms in Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and other states where  laws forbid the sale of raw milk.

For a list by state of raw milk dairies and share farms, visit realmilk.com.
To set up a dairy herd-share, please contact the Weston A. Price Foundation at (202) 363-4394 or pete@realmilk.com.

A Campaign for Real Milk is a project of The Weston A. Price Foundation® for Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts

PMB Box 106-380
4200 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 363-4394

Visit our websites at westonaprice.org and realmilk.com