Three generations of Duivenvoorden dairy farmers show off gallons of the farm’s raw milk

Duivenvoorden Farms has long used R.A.W., Real And Wholesome, as the tagline for its raw (literally) milk, available since 2007 to herd share owners. Now, the farm has built a bottling facility licensed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the farmers are bottling the farm’s raw milk and making it available at select markets in the northstate.

It’s been a long journey. On the farm live four generations of the family, which has farmed there in Cottonwood for over fifty years. Lori and Marc Duivenvoorden took over the dairy from Marc’s father in 1993, at the time selling their milk to a local creamery.

As feed prices rose and milk prices dropped, that proved unsustainable on a small scale, and in 2007, Marc, Lori, and their son Seth made the decision to switch to a raw milk herd share operation. In this model, consumers purchase a stake in the herd and contribute monthly upkeep. In exchange for sharing ownership, they share the herd’s output of milk. The herd share program grew to 220 members, and it literally saved the farm and made its operations sustainable. (Full disclosure: my husband and I have owned part of the herd for several years and have drunk many many gallons of the farm’s raw milk.) Along with Seth, son Luke also works on the farm.

Marc Duivenvoorden keeps a scrupulously clean milking parlor. Throughout its production, the farm has been a certified Grade A Dairy, fulfilling all the state requirements to qualify. Not all herd share operations do, by any means. Now, the state has likewise certified the farm’s new processing facility, certification that enables sale of the milk in retail outlets. Certification involves both testing the sanitation of the facilities—milking and bottling areas—and testing the livestock and milk for bacteria. Each batch of bottled milk must meet state standards, and tests conducted on the facilities each month must also meet required standards.

Why buy Duivenvoorden Farms’ raw milk?

First, the Shasta County dairy is local, to mention which, in its case, is not a bandwagon appeal. Herd share owners have always been welcome to visit the farm to pick up their milk, and now the farmers welcome other consumers too to purchase milk on-site (phone first, please, to assure availability). The farm hosts an annual Milk and Cookies Day, inviting the public to enjoy farm tours, cookie-baking contests, and nearly twenty other local vendors.

Buying from this farm also supports its farming practices. Seth and Marc describe practices worth supporting. The farmers employ intensive grazing, a method that encourages pasture grasses to regenerate.

When they supplement the cows’ diets, they use grass hay and barley fodder. They milk the cows just once a day; most dairies milk twice/day and some three times. Once-a- day milking is not only easier on cows—the animals at Duivenvoorden produce milk for six years, while the typical herd produces for two to three years. Once-a-day milking also results in a higher butterfat content to the milk. And the practice also means that calves stay with their mothers longer. While typical dairies remove the calf right after birth, the Duivenvoordens turn the cows out to pasture after morning milking, and the calves stay on their mothers for about two months, until they are weaned to pasture.

“It just makes sense,” says Marc. “Different practices yield a different product. There’s a wow factor when people drink our milk.”

Duivenvoorden Farms
19490 Draper Road, Cottonwood

In addition to on-farm sales, the farm’s raw milk is available in whole and half-gallons at Country Organics, Orchard Nutrition, and Kent’s Meats & Groceries in Redding, S & S Produce and New Earth Market in Chico, and Health Habit in Willows. Check the website for updates on where the milk is sold.