2020 - Volume #44, Issue #4, Page #09[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Raw Milk Customers Own The Cows
“The first of the year we had 450 families who owned shares in our 30-cow herd,” says Joe Streit. “We get several calls a week asking about shares and keep adding families.”
A full herd share contract includes a one-time deposit of $50 and yields 52 gal. of milk a year. Shareholders pay the Streits $30 a month to maintain the cows, jug the milk, and make or package other raw dairy products. Delivery is extra, depending on distance from the farm. Most shareholders pick up the milk at the farm, while others pick it up from drop-station coolers in various areas served by the Streits.
“We use the honor system at the farm and at our coolers,” says Streit. “The milk or other products are in the cooler with the shareholder’s name on them. We seldom have a problem.”
Streit notes that some drop sites are at other farm stores in the area. “They may produce eggs or meat, but not raw milk,” says Streit. “Our raw milk shareholders become customers of theirs also.”
Shareholders can also get butter, cream or yogurt for a processing charge of $7 for a quart of yogurt, a 1/2-lb. of butter or a pint of cream. Streit emphasizes that the milk that goes into these products is free. If a shareholder goes on vacation or can’t use their weekly gallon of milk, they qualify for its $7 equivalent in other products.
When totaled up, the Streits estimate their milk brings in about $80 per hundred lbs. That’s well over 4 times the price Ohio dairy farmers currently receive selling to processors.
The Streits didn’t start out as dairy farmers. Dietary problems and health concerns led them to information on the benefits of raw milk from the Weston A. Price Foundation.
“Raw milk was their cornerstone product, but I was severely lactose intolerant,” recalls Streit. “They encouraged me to try raw milk, and I didn’t get sick.”
After buying a cow of their own in 2005 and then a second one to cover dry periods, they began getting requests for raw milk from others.
“After we set up the herd share program, the state department of agriculture challenged us in court, but we won,” says Streit. “We started selling a few shares, and after the first year had sold 40 contracts. We bought several more cows and soon were buying cows every other month as the number of shares grew.”
They stayed at 100 shares the first year and by the third year were at 200 shares. Streit notes that promotion is strictly word of mouth with about a quarter of shareholders in the medical profession.
The Streits are careful to maintain a clean and healthy environment at their farm. Cows are milked in a 6-head milking parlor using 50-year-old equipment Streit bought from another farmer in 2008. In 2015 the herd was moved into a freestall barn with a center feed alley. They also have access to pasture and are fed a forage-based, non-GMO ration with no soy. During winter months the cows are fed sprouted barley from a hydroponic system.
Herd share members have full access to the farm. With many stopping by to pick up their product, the medical personnel among them are the farm’s quality control inspectors.
“They do come through and look,” he says. “We try to keep everything as spotless as we can. We also check somatic cell counts monthly and test for Johne’s disease several times a year.”
Since the first cow, they have stayed with Jerseys for their economy of size, production and butterfat. They also like the size of the Jersey steer, especially those that are half Angus. Cows are bred AI with only the best being bred back to Jersey for replacement heifers.
“We sell the steers for $2 per pound on the hoof,” says Streit. “The 315 to 450 lbs. of meat harvested is about the right amount for our customers.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Joe and Janet Streit, 3070 Wehr Rd., Hamilton, Ohio 45011 (ph 513 284-7330; firstname.lastname@example.org;
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