If you are like many people, finding a goat farm that does herd-shares has not been a easy task. We are often asked to do shares, but cannot due to the need for ALL the milk we produce. We simply cannot spare it. So we were really tickled when we met Dirk and Laura Smits of Williamsburg, OH recently. They are the owners of D & L Meadows Goat Dairy in Williamsburg, OH. They do not compete in shows, make soap or do Goat Yoga. Their focus is solely on quality milk production and growing that part of their business.
Herd-Shares are the only legal way to buy raw milk in Ohio presently. But consumers want to know the milk has been handled properly, that the animals receive quality care and the product they are paying for is safe. After a recent visit to our farm by the Dirks, and a couple hours of swapping goat stories, methods, and experiences…..we came away with great respect for what they have accomplished in the “goat milk” world with their Nigerian Dwarf herd. They participate in ADGA’s Dairy Herd Improvement Registry and in routine milk testing. So our Blog today is to share THEIR story……
Dirk and Laura Smits have both always had a love of farming, which they have passed on to their 3 teenage daughters. At first, getting into goats was just for fun and gave them the chance to have goat milk of their own. As the animal population increased, Laura was making LOTS of cheese. The amount of milk began to get overwhelming so they began the process of getting licensed in late 2014. They first obtained the Grade B designation which enabled them to sell raw milk to the artisan cheesemaker “My Artisano Foods” in Sharonville, OH.
However, they STILL had milk left over, so they took the next step and achieved Grade A status, which opened up the door to yogurt making. With Grade-A certification, herd-shares were a next best-step. A Herd-Share works by the customer buying a “share” in the farm ($25) and then $10 per week for maintenance expenses. This $10 entitles a family to one gallon of milk per week. At local Kroger stores, a quart of goat milk is $4.00, so you will spend $16 per gallon in comparison. If a consumer wishes to stop the herd-share, the Dirks will buy the share back at the same $25.
The family goal is to acquire more land, build a larger barn and have a professional processing room to make cheese on the farm and eventually do farm tours as well. They also have Finnsheep, which is an ancient breed, having been in Finland for over a thousand years. As that herd grows, they hope to offer sheep milk cheese as well.
As we can attest, growth of a successful agri-business takes a singular dedication to quality and time. It means doing the right thing over & over again, no matter how long the day. The Smits are “doing it right” and doing it well. So we highly recommend them as a source for goat milk herd shares. You may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org by email or at phone at either 513-724-2679 (Landline) or 513-465-3259 (Cell) to learn more about their raw milk program.