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Where can I buy your products?
You can find our products in a wide variety of locations across western Massachusetts. Check out our store finder page. If you don’t see our products in your favorite retailer, you can print and fill out our Product Request Form and turn it into the grocery manager.
Where do you make your products?
Thanks to a 2020 Massachusetts Food Security Infrastructure Grant, all of our delicious dairy products are crafted at our new production facility (the “creamery”) located at Bree-Z-Knoll Farm in Leyden, Massachusetts.
And when we say “farmstead fresh”, we mean it! Less than 24 hours passes between milking and shipping products to dairy cases across the region.
Are your products hormone-free?
Yes, our products are free from added hormones.
We care about the health of our cows tremendously, and therefore we’ve always pledged to not use rbST (bovine growth hormones). And, our ladies are already wonderful milk producers, due to their happy and healthy lifestyle!
The FDA states that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows.
Are your products antibiotic-free?
Many consumers aren’t aware that the FDA requires all milk, conventional and organic, to be free of antibiotics. All milk is tested for antibiotic residue before it arrives at the creamery (in our case, the next building!). Our cows are very healthy, and rarely need medical intervention such as antibiotics.
However, if one of our cows is given antibiotics as part of her treatment, her milk is disposed of the entire time she is treated and at least 3 days after treatment has ended. Her milk is only used again once it is tested free from antibiotics. We can run a simple test on-farm to determine if her milk is cleared.
What about GMOs?
As conventional dairy farmers who care deeply for the land and our cows, our stance on the benefits of GMOs (specifically, the crops we grow to feed our cows) is that advances in agricultural genetic engineering have made farming much more efficient and productive. These advances include keeping costly plant diseases and pests at bay, and reduce the need for pesticides. We are also able to improve our crop yields so that we can efficiently grow feed for our cows on less land and use less water than we did 20 years ago.
Why aren’t you certified organic?
We understand that the apparent benefits of certified organic dairy appeal to many people. Early on, our co-op declined to pursue organic certification for two main reasons.
First, organic certification is a prohibitively expensive process for independent farmers, meaning that we’d have to pass on those costs to consumers. We strive to provide the highest quality and nourishing dairy products at a price that everyone can afford.
Second, we don’t agree with some of the practices on organic farms, such as the use of antibiotics for a sick cow. In a certified organic dairy, farmers are not allowed to use antibiotics, meaning that any sick cows receiving antibiotic treatment will be permanently removed from the milking herd.
By contrast, if one of our cows has pneumonia or another severe infection (which is very rare!), we will absolutely give her penicillin to make sure she will not suffer, recover swiftly, and rejoin our milking herd when she is completely healthy again. While the cow is being treated her milk is disposed of, and we test her milk to ensure it is free of any antibiotic residue.
We can assure you that our cows are just as cared for and as healthy as those on organic dairy farms.
How do you make your products?
Our milk goes from the “bulk tank” in our milking barn to our creamery right next door. From there, we pasteurize the milk using the HTST method, which heats the milk to a temperature of approximately 161℉ for 15 seconds.
We then homogenize the milk, and separate the fat to blend our milk varieties (Whole, Reduced Fat, Lowfat, or Skim) as well as our delicious Half & Half and Heavy Cream.
Why did you switch from paper cartons to plastic bottles?
In April of 2023, we opened our new on-farm bottling and production facility and began using the new plastic bottles for our half gallons and other new sizes and products. Our new processing equipment can only fill plastic bottles, but they range in size from 8oz to 128oz, and purchasing an exclusive filler for paper half-gallons was cost prohibitive. Additionally, our old paper cartons were a continuous source of leakage, leading to consumer frustration and complaints as well as an excess waste of our milk (which retailers could not sell). We are confident our new packaging is durable, leakproof, and sustainable.
Our new bottles are made from PET plastic, which is 100% recyclable and BPA-free.
Our Cows & Farms
Where are your farms located?
Our co-op has two family farms, Bree-Z-Knoll Farm and Gould Maple Farm. Both are located in Franklin County, Massachusetts.
How many cows do you milk, and what breed are they?
Between our two farms, we milk around 200 cows. The majority of our cows are registered Holsteins (the ubiquitous black-and-white dairy cow), as well as some Brown Swiss. Many of our ladies have bloodlines reaching back many generations, and you’ll find several generations of mothers and daughters in our milking herds.
How are your calves treated?
We treat our expectant mamas and their babies with extra attention and care!
When our cows are getting ready to calve, we lead mama to an especially comfy, extra-clean, and roomy maternity pen. After birth, we leave the calf with the mother until he or she is dry, and mama has time to clean her with a thorough licking. We then help clean up mom, and we milk her colostrum to ensure that her calf gets this as early as possible to provide immunity.
Babies are then moved to their own calf hutch for safety and biosecurity where they continue to receive their mama’s milk for 3 days. We then transition them to comingled milk from all the mamas in our herd until they are weaned at two months.
Calves, which are by nature very social and playful, are introduced to other calves in group housing at around three months.
What sustainable practices do you use?
As a second-generation family farm, we believe we have to be as good to our land as we are to our cows.
Land stewardship and sustainability have always been core values for Our Family Farms, and our farming practices continue to evolve to support this vision.
Here are a few ways we’re helping to reduce our footprint and ensure our farmland remains healthy for generations to come:
- Our cows eat local, too! We grow, harvest, and process about 80% of the food (corn silage and hay) for our cows ourselves right on our farm, and the grain we purchase comes from a Vermont-based supplier. Cows are also known as great recyclers because they can utilize by-products from certain food production processes that are inedible to humans and turn them into milk! Cows can eat bakery waste, cottonseed hulls, and brewers’ and distillers’ grains just to name a few. All of these “waste products” would normally end up in landfills.
- We use our cows’ manure to fertilize our crops. We spread the fields at just the right time to allow the most nutrients to be replenished into the ground while reducing groundwater contamination. This also reduces the need for purchased commercial fertilizer or finding alternate means of manure disposal.
- We’ve implemented a team of rechargeable robots to automate both manure removal and milking in our barns, freeing up manpower and, most importantly, resulting in happier and more productive cows.
- Switching to on-farm production means that our milk travels way fewer miles before it reaches your table, reducing fuel costs and emissions.