Southwest Virginia Herdshares

What is a herdshare and how does it work?

It is illegal for anyone to sell fresh unprocessed milk in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Each state makes up its own guidelines regarding fresh milk and the Commonwealth of Virginia has chosen to follow the FDA regulations regarding the sale of fresh unprocessed milk.  While it is illegal to sell fresh milk, the Law in the Commonwealth of Virginia is structured to allow the consumption of fresh milk from an animal that an individual owns or owns a stake in. Unless you have a cow in your backyard, you need a herd share to enjoy fresh milk in Virginia.

A herd share works like this: We do all the hard work - milking, grazing, doctoring, delivering etc.  We do all this for a boarding fee of just $35.00 a month, per share. It's that simple.

At the onset, you pay a $40 purchase fee for your portion of the herd.  Start up costs includes your herd purchase and first month boarding fee.   After that you settle into the routine Boarding Fee due at the beginning of each month.  Half shares are also available.

 

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Please note that this is not a milk purchase! 

It is a purchase to maintain our shared herd and is due monthly for each share owned.  These boarding fees will go towards the labor costs, the monthly milk tests and any other fees that may incur to maintain a healthy and bountiful herd.  Fees do not change according to missed milk pick ups.

We understand things can change for everyone overnight, so for your convenience there will be no long term commitments. You can back out at anytime with a simple 30 day notice and only need to maintain your boarding commitments up to that point.

Delivery

Pick up at the farm

Herdshare members are welcome to come to the farm and pick up their milk anytime during our operating hours.  Just call us and let us know you intend to come to the farm with a few days notice and we will have your milk ready for pick up.  With no delivery made there will never be a delivery charge for this option.

Pickup Points

Your milk will be available for pickup should you choose at the Abingdon Farmers Market every week. We will be offering every Saturday and Tuesday as times for you to pick from for delivery.  When you fill out your lease agreement you will have the option to pick either day for pick up.  When you pick a day it will become your permanent delivery point and you can expect to pick up your milk every week.

In the event you prefer a more convenient delivery option, we do offer local drop points to better suit your needs.  We do have a drop point in Abingdon we deliver to on Wednesdays and Saturdays and one in Lebanon we deliver to on Mondays. When you fill out your lease agreement you will have the option to select any one of these options.  We will stock a designated refrigerator at specified locations on weekly intervals and you can pick your milk up at your convenience.

If you do not find a convenient option on our list and would like us to delivery somewhere closer to your location, please let us know. We may already have other share owners in your area.  With enough demand we would most certainly work to establish a new delivery point. If there are not enough share owners in your area, one of the fastest ways to make this happen would be to become a share owner and with our referral program below bring in new share owners from your area.  Not only would you enjoy the benefit of waived monthly boarding fees, but with enough share owners from an area we could establish a new delivery point.

How do I get started?

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Getting started is easy.  First, click below to be sent to our form.  After filling out our form you can print out the Agreement to review.  After reviewing the contract you MUST sign the bottom along with a witness's signature and either mail it to us or drop it off to us at the Abingdon Farmers Market.  Once we have your signed contract and initial payment in hand, you're ready to go.  You will find your milk waiting for you at your selected delivery point on the next delivery.

Mail your signed contract to:

Goshen Homestead
3261 Hayters Gap rd.
Elk Garden, VA 24260

 

You can pay your initial payment conveniently on our website. If you do not prefer to pay this way please be sure to spend your payment along with your contract in the mail. A share purchase does not begin until the contract and initial payment are in order.

Our Referral Program

Anyone who becomes a herd share owner and brings new herd share members into the program will get a full month boarding fee waived.   This offer has no restrictions. If you bring in one new share holder you get one month waived.  If you bring in one half share holder you get half of a month waived.  If you bring in 12 new members you get a whole year waived.  New members must become share owners and have their Lease Purchase and initial fees in order.  They must also mention your referral at the time of sale in order to be honored.

Herdshare & Fresh Milk FAQs

All boarding contracts are annual and renew every year unless a 90 day notice is given before the renewal date. We have however structured our program to allow anyone who has a need to withdrawal from the program early to be able to do so with ease. All you need to do is give a 30 day notice of your withdrawal and keep your monthly fees paid until the time comes.

Invoicing is done in the middle of each month. You may either pay by check, cash or money order by mailing it to our address found above.  Monthly fees will always be due on the first of each month.  You can also conveniently pay any invoice on our website or find us at the market during market hours and pay us in person

No, we never issue financial credits for this. You are paying for the cows to be tended, fed, milked, etc. and that must be done every day regardless if you drink the milk or not. We suggest that if you run into a week you cannot pick up your milk to have someone else pick it up for you. You can give out your milk to family or friends in circumstances like that, but under no conditions should you sell your milk to anyone. It is illegal to sell unprocessed and unregulated milk in Virginia

The cows you're buying a share in at this time are Jersey and Brown Swiss. Jersey cows are the most popular family milk cow. They have the highest butterfat content of any milk. Jersey's also have milk that is the most yellow in color due to the high content of very yellow butterfat. We prefer this type of milk over other cow’s milk and hope that you find the same satisfaction we get from it.

Jersey bulls however are very dangerous to raise and since we only want to run a natural breeding program we are seeking other options. We intend to try red milking Devons and possibly Guernsey in our herd this year as they too have some of the highest butterfat. We intend to phase out the multiple variety of cows in our herd as time goes on as we solidify on which one type we like best.

The calves are "purchased" by Goshen Homestead in return for the cost of keeping a bull on farm for getting the cow bred and raising any calves for the program. The heifer calves from these calvings will be used as replacement heifers and additional milking cows for our boarding program.

Our cows graze primarily on fresh grass & hay in the winter under a highly managed rotational grazing program. They get a small amount of non-GMO grains mixed with some kelp and alfalfa at the morning and evening milking as a treat and as a way to give them extra vitamins, protein and probiotics. We never use hormones and purchase nothing but the highest quality hay once we have depleted our stock.

We milk each day at 5:30 am and 5:30 pm with a milking machine. After we milk the cows, we filter and then transfer the milk into containers and store in the refrigerator at 35-37 degrees until it is delivered. We wash and sterilize all of our equipment after each milking and do it all over again 12 hours later.

As of right now we bottle all milk in plastic gallon and half gallon milk jugs. We are offering an option for glass half gallon jars so if you have any desire to have that option available please reach out and let us know. The option of glass bottles would require an extra charge of $5.00/month included in your monthly boarding fees and the purchase of a case of half gallon ball jars (6) for a full share and a 1/2 case of jars for a half share (3).

Always keep your milk chilled. If you have some distance to travel, or stops to make before you arrive home, it's imperative that you keep your milk at refrigerator temperature until you return home. Take care that it's not left out for long at meal time.  If at any time your milk becomes unpleasant to drink due to leaving it out or of its age, simply discard the product.  If you do not feel comfortable drinking aged milk or aging it into other products, just stick with the fresh milk you get every week.  That will keep your supply fresh and you won’t have to worry about how old your milk is getting.

There are however many things you can do with aging milk. Sour cream, yogurt, cheese, pudding, the list is endless. There are alot of recipes you can find online that will show you what to do with your aging milk. As time goes on we hope to become one of those online sources of information like that so keep an eye out as we grow and develop our site.

We send samples of milk annually and in the first week of every month to check for pathogens and mastitis and keep all records of these results on file. Share owners have access to these records any time upon request. On top of that we test weekly for mastitis on the farm. It is our highest priority to ensure that the milk we provide you from your cow is of the highest quality and safety.

We treat our cows with natural, homeopathic or herbal remedies for any sickness or infection that may occur within the herd. All sickness within the herd is treated as a high priority and any sign of infection will result in a cow to be quarantine and pulled from production until the situation is remedied. As far as antibiotics is concerned- it is illegal for ANYONE, even commercial dairies, to give milk tainted with antibiotics to anyone. So no milk you ever drink from any source should contain antibiotics. If we ever have to treat an animal with antibiotics, which suggests there is a life threatening situation we could not contain naturally, we will dispose of the milk for the duration of the entire sickness and withdrawal period of the antibiotic followed by an addition amount of time for the animal to fully purge from its sickness, or depending on the situation just dry off the cow completely. Obviously we will do everything in our power to avoid that option.

When everyone had a family milk cow that grazed on grass, no one worried about bad milk. When milking made its big move to commercial dairies, the diet of the cow switched from mostly grass to mostly grain. With this change in diet and the crowded commercial dairy conditions, suddenly raw milk became a health hazard. To preserve their large commercial dairies, the obvious solution was to pasteurize the milk. Pasteurized milk of course destroys all the bacteria (good and bad) in milk. The result was that the milk that was produced under these new conditions could now be consumed with minimal risk at the subtle expense of flavor, nutrition, good enzymes and bacteria and a product that doesn't age on the shelf anymore, but now rots and goes rancid.

Obviously the dairy industry had to do a big sell to the consumer to get them to accept this different product, thus the marketing that many of us were raised under to belief that only pasteurized milk is the truly safe option to drink. In fact, a few backyard cows fed primarily grass & hay and milked in a clean facility produces fresh milk that is perfectly safe to drink unpasteurized.

If you search the web for "raw milk" you will find many discussions on the topic of consuming fresh unprocessed milk. I refer to information found on Raw Milk Facts and Real Milk. Much of the other information on fresh milk, in our opinion, comes from misunderstandings, perversions of truths, and political pressures from the commercial dairy industry to keep a competing product out of the market and protect their market share. It is advised to do your own due diligence and form your own opinions on the matter. There is much conflicting information out there and everyone is trying to sell you their angle on the subject.

Overall choosing to drink fresh unprocessed milk is no light matter. The truth is that any milk, pasteurized or unpasteurized, that is contaminated with deadly pathogens can be very dangerous if not fatal to consume. To make this choice demands alot of responsibility on the part of the consumer to do diligent research on the matter and most importantly know the conditions the cows you wish to consume milk from are raised in. The same risk applies when buying pasteurized milk from the grocery stores, with the exception you cant just meet the producers of that milk when you buy it, so you have to weigh your options and always make informed decisions.

Many people who cannot tolerate pasteurized milk are delighted to discover they have no trouble digesting raw milk; so many lactose intolerant people use raw milk. Other people find that the heavy lactobacillus content in raw milk (similar to what you find in commercial yogurt or cultured buttermilk) helps keep their digestive system running smoothly. Many people simply prefer the fuller taste of raw milk. Overall, majority of those who enjoy fresh milk do it simply to return to a more natural unprocessed diet as was intended by our Maker.

 

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