Share Agreements: Cowshares, Goatshares, Herdshares, Farmshares

Herd-ShareAgreements-600x626In states where dairy regulations forbid consumers their constitutional right to purchase raw milk in stores or directly from farmers, consumers are entering into share agreements with the farmer.

In a cowshare, goatshare, or herdshare agreement, consumers pay a farmer a fee for boarding their cow or goat, (or share of a cow or goat), caring for the cow or goat, and milking the cow or goat. The herdshare owner then obtains (but does not purchase) the milk from his own cow or goat. This arrangement is similar to arrangements of owning a share in a racehorse or a bull.

Some states, such as Wisconsin, actually forbid herdshare agreements (which represents a further abridgement of our constitutional rights.) In these states, consumers and farmers have set up corporations in which consumers hold non-voting shares. This permits the consumer to obtain raw milk and other products from the farm in which he shares ownership (a farmshare). It is more difficult and more expensive to set up a farmshare program than a herdshare program, but this arrangement has the advantage of providing the farmer with more protection.

For information on setting up a herdshare or farmshare agreement, contact the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund at . Fund members have access to generic herdshare agreements and legal advice.

Farmers setting up herdshares may also be interested in this freeware application that can help you keep deliveries straight among various groups picking up on different days.

4 thoughts on “Share Agreements: Cowshares, Goatshares, Herdshares, Farmshares

  1. If you have a herd-share dairy, are you forced to meet all the requirements and licensing of a commercial dairy? Or is it considered the same as a private farm?

    • I have a very small herd of dairy goats and don’t have the funds to go commercial with all of the building requirements and licenses.This would be for a very small group of people.

    • I think it varies by state, but generally, I don’t think it’s the same requirements as for commercial dairies. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund ( or the Raw Milk Institute ( may be able to answer your question specifically (let them know where you are).

  2. I grew up on raw cows milk. I made butter when I was old enough to keep the glass bowl from spinning on the mixer. I also milked cow, started at the age of 12 and milked a cow till I was 16. I was the chief bread maker of our large family. Mom would put the ingredients in a large bowl which would make 15 to 20 loaves of bread. Things like left over oatmeal from breakfasts would be in the mix. I really remember enjoying the part when mom introduced the eggs to the mix and i would squeeze each one seperately making sure the yoke was squished. The store bought eggs of today, the yoke may break on its own.

    I encourage anyone to take a look at the crowdfunding to look into getting your project funded letting others know in doing the same.

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