Herd Shares

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Cradle Knoll Farm

Herd Shares

What is a herd share?

A herd share is your own share in a herd of dairy cows. We divide the herd into shares. Your share of the weekly milk production is equal to your percentage of ownership in the herd times the total weekly production of the herd. Shareholders receive approximately one gallon per week per share.

Why don’t you just sell milk?

In Michigan it is illegal to sell raw milk (that is, unpasteurized, “fresh-from-the-cow” milk). It is not, however, illegal to drink raw milk from a cow that you own. Most people don’t have the time and space to care for a cow. We solve the problem by caring for and milking your cow for you.

What kind of cow will I be buying?

The herd is made up of Brown Swiss, Jersey, Holsteins, and crossbreeds of these three breeds. The butterfat and protein of our milk tends to run higher than the average farm.

Are these cows given hormones or antibiotics?

We never give the cows hormones (eg.rBGH) to enhance growth or production. Only when a cow is ill do we give her antibiotics—never as a preventive measure. All antibiotics have a withdrawal time during which the cow’s milk cannot be consumed. In the rare event that one of the cows must be given antibiotics, we double the recommended withholding time, before using their milk.

What do you feed the cows?

The herd is pastured as long as there is adequate grass available—generally April through October. In the winter the cows are fed hay grown on our own farm. Their diets are supplemented with a modest amount of grain-based dairy rations and free choice minerals.

Where are the cows kept?

The cows are boarded at Cradle Knoll Farm in Bliss. Shareholders pay us a weekly boarding fee. We’ll feed and care for the herd, milk them, and make milk available to you. You’ll be asked to read and sign a boarding agreement with Cradle Knoll farm when you purchase your her share.

How do you collect and store the milk?

We milk using a pipeline milking system. The milk is strained directly into a refrigerated bulk tank, where it awaits pick-up.

How does the milk pick-up work?

You can pick up milk directly from the farm at a mutually agreeable time. We recommend you transport your filled milk jars in a cooler or other secondary container. Spilled milk is very difficult to clean from your vehicle.

Do I reuse the glass jars?

Yes, we reuse the jars. After the milk in each jar is consumed, promptly rinse the far and lid in warm water. Wash the jar and lid in the dishwasher with a mild dish washing detergent, placing plastic lids on the top rack only. Allow jars to air dry. Return jars from the previous week to the farm with picking up the current week’s milk. We’ll replace any jars broken or lost at cost.

Why does a layer of cream form on top of my milk?

Unlike milk purchased in the grocery store, this milk has not been homogenized. If you like whole milk, just shake the container prior to pouring. If you prefer skim milk, skim the cream using a ladle, and save it for another use.

Can the milk be pasteurized?

You can pasteurize your own milk if you wish. For example, the milk can be heated to 145oF and held at that temperature for thirty minutes. Alternatively, automatic pasteurizers are available from catalogs.

When does a cow produce milk?

A cow produces milk only after she has had a calf. Cradle Knoll Farm makes sure the cows freshen every year to ensure the constant supply of milk. The cow produces milk on a 305-day cycle, and then is “dried-up” for sixty days prior to the birth of the calf. This means that for sixty days of the year each cow will not be producing any milk. We try to stagger the cows’ dry periods such that there is always milk available; however, it is possible that milk delivery could be adversely affected from time to time.

If each cow has a calf every year, what happens to the calf?

Complete ownership of the calves will go the Cradle Knoll Farm as compensation for the added cost of breeding the cows and handling the calving. Heifer calves often stay on the farm and join the herd.

What are the costs?

To purchase a share in the herd (one share is equivalent to approximately one gallon of milk per week), you pay $20.00 This is a one-time cost. There is a boarding fee of $3.00 per share per week payable to Cradle Knoll Farm.

How do I get started?

We recommend that you first visit the farm. At this time you may request a boarding agreement. Read the boarding agreement, sign it, and pay the one-time fee. As soon as we receive your signed agreement and check, you may begin receiving your milk.

How can I obtain more information?

We offer share in our small herd of dairy cows to those desiring fresh, whole milk. Each share represents partial ownership of the herd. In return for a weekly boarding fee, we’ll care for the cows, milk them, and make available to you a portion of their milk. The milk is unpasteurized, and non-homogenized. Enjoy the milk whole, or skim the cream for whipping, butter, or ice cream. If you would like to check our the farm or cows, or have questions about our farming practices, feel free to contact us.

Cradle Knoll Farm

1515 Strong Road

Bliss Michigan

(Levering, MI 49755)