Cow-Share FAQ

Dora, a purebred Jersey cow

Do you sell raw milk?

No. Our farm does not sell raw milk or any raw dairy products. What our farm does is sell shares of dairy cows to people in order for them to obtain their own raw milk from their own cow. This is called a cow-share. 

What is a cow-share?

A cow-share is a fraction of a real cow. In North Dakota, it is currently not legal to sell raw milk or products made from raw milk. However, it is legal to buy your own cow, or a share in a cow (called a cow-share), and to consume raw milk and other products coming from that cow. A contract between the farmer and the owner of the cow arranges for the cow's boarding at the farm, and the owner supplied with milk. This practice is referred to as a cow-share program. 

How much milk do I get from one cow-share?

Since a cow-share is a fraction of a real cow, the owner of a cow-share gets an equivalent fraction of milk production. That means the amount of milk you receive depends on how much milk your cow produces in a year. Based on an average cow, one cow-share provides approximately one half gallon of milk each week for ten months of the year. Owners can expect a yearly total of about 20 gallons of milk from a single cow-share. 

Can I get just cream?

Cow's milk is naturally whole, meaning that it contains cream and milk mixed together. Since a cow-share entitles you to a fraction of a cow's milk production, a cow-share yields whole milk only. If you are interested in receiving cream alone, ask about having your milk skimmed and the cream bottled separately. 

Will my cow produce milk all year?

Normally, cows produce milk for 10 months of each year. This is due to the cow's milking cycle, which begins at calving and ends when she is preparing for calving again. For this reason, cow-share owners may notice seasonal changes in their milk supply.

  • Dry Period - This is the time when the cow is not milked since she's preparing for another calf. This period is usually two months in duration. The dry period ensures that all of the cow's nutrients can go toward growing the calf inside of her. Cow-share owners will not receive milk from their shares in that cow during its dry period. If you wish to continue receiving milk during your cow's dry period, you will need to purchase additional shares in another cow on a different schedule. Extra milk is sometimes available as an optional product.  When you choose that product, you are paying the boarding fee for someone who is on vacation that week. 

What breed of cow will I be buying?

Bartlett Farms is currently milking Jerseys and Jersey-cross cattle. Jerseys are known for their rich golden milk with a high cream content. The cream enables your body to benefit from more of the vitamins and minerals in the milk. When allowed to sit undisturbed, the cream will rise to the top and can be skimmed for fresh cream, butter, whipped cream, ice-cream or other uses. 

Does my cow-share expire each year?

No, you own the share for the entire life of the cow, or you may sell it to another person at any time. You may end your cow-share by simply discontinuing boarding fee payments. We handle our cows in a friendly, low-stress environment to promote longer, happier lives and healthier milk. We use a 10-year cow lifespan for planning purposes, but others report up to 15 years. 

Can I have my milk delivered?

Yes, you can. Bartlett Farms currently offers regular delivery along our routes which include the areas of Lake Metigoshe, Bottineau, Maxbass, Glenburn, Minot, Washburn, Bismarck, Mandan, Stanley, Tioga, Williston, Cando, Rugby, York, Devils Lake, Grand Forks and more. We deliver direct to homes within our reach and to other pickup locations.  

What about pickup groups?

If you do not live near any of our current delivery locations, you may consider starting a pickup group. A pickup group is a collection of families who take turns driving to the farm or a delivery location to bring back milk for the others. 

How should I clean my glass jars?

Whenever you receive fresh milk, you will need to return clean, empty jars and lids to have your bottle deposit refunded.  Please wash your jars and lids with hot, soapy water, and rinse them thoroughly, or wash them in a dishwasher using a mild dishwashing detergent. Ensure the jars and lids are dry before replacing the lids. Transport them carefully to ensure no chipping or damage. To make sure they are super clean, we take the clean jars and soak them in milk stone remover, then wash, sanitize and dry the bottles before reuse.   

Management Practices

What do you feed your dairy cows?

Our dairy cows live on a forage based diet consisting of pasture in the summer and our best quality hay in the winter. We currently offer them a small amount of transitional organic, non-GMO grain as a supplement at each of their two daily milkings. Our ration does not include corn or soy, as these grains are less natural to cattle than barley, oats, or peas. We have a barley grass fodder system to provide fresh greens year-round to the cattle, which contributes to milk containing key nutrients that are normally found only in prime spring pasture. The cows also receive top quality kelp, salt, and mineral supplements approved for organic dairies. 

In the spring, summer and fall, the cows are moved daily to fresh pasture in order to provide optimum forage intake as well as to build soil fertility. Broiler chickens and laying hens follow the cattle, sanitizing the pasture and adding their own fertilizer. Hogs may sometimes be used to stir up the turf and aid decomposition. This diversity of species on a field encourages new varieties of plants to emerge and wildlife such as songbirds to return. 

The cows live almost exclusively outdoors and only enter the barn for milking or when bad weather persists. We operate using simple, reliable, time-tested milking practices (i.e., DeLaval style bucket milking machine, stainless steel totes, strainers and utensils, and glass bottles), with an emphasis on cleanliness and milk quality. Regular testing of the milk is also done to provide insight into herd health. We do not use antibiotics or artificial hormones and are committed to keeping cattle healthy in ways that align with God's natural order of creation (i.e., grass diets, strong immune systems, healthy intake of vitamins and minerals etc. See Proverbs 12:10). 

How do you collect and store the milk?

The cows are milked twice each day. The milk is transported in a stainless steel carrier to the milk processing room where it is carefully strained into clean glass bottles for storage. The bottles are then cooled, labeled with the date, "A" for a.m. or "P" for p.m., then stored in a refrigerator kept at about 36 degrees F to prolong shelf life. The milking equipment is then rinsed with tepid water, washed with a strong detergent, rinsed with an acid cleaner to remove potential protein buildup, and then sanitized before the next use. 

Do you have A2 milk?

Yes! We offer A2 milk to cow-share owners for an added fee. Select the A2 Separating processing option to receive A2 specific milk. 

What is A2 milk?

A2 milk is growing in popularity for its ease of digestion and different protein makeup. Because A2 milk has a different protein structure, some people who are sensitive to milk react less severely or not at all to A2 milk. Customers have reported feeling 80% better on A2 milk, when they were reacting to regular A1 raw milk. If you are sensitive to dairy, try A2 for a while to see if it helps. Most lactose intolerant people do not react even to the A1 raw milk.


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