Meet the Farmer
From the time he was a young man, L.D. Peeler, Jr. loved the dairy life and its humble cows. So after graduating from Western Carolina University and working briefly at a large corporation, he decided to follow his heart and the business his grandfather had started.
Like his grandfather, L.D. had learned that a dairy kept families close, allowing them to work 'at home' while still getting an education. In 1978, he put that belief into practice, becoming a third-generation dairyman by purchasing 12 registered Jersey heifers from his father. This was the beginning of Peeler’s Jerseys – an all-Jersey herd.
In 1987, L.D. decided to relocate his family and the dairy to Milky Way Farm in Starr, South Carolina. Today, they milk 120 registered Jersey cows and maintain a small herd of beef cattle. The Peelers believe in producing milk from healthy, contented Jersey cows that eat and live the way nature intended – on a relaxed pasture. In addition, Milky Way cows are never given hormones or steroids.
Currently, Milky Way Farm bottles and sells Grade-A Raw Milk to farm markets, various grocery stores, and private families in search of the goodness of real, natural milk. They understand that nothing needs to be added to raw milk to enhance its taste or nutrients – especially when it’s from grass-fed, pastured cows. Pure raw milk has all the vitamins and minerals essential to making it a complete and properly balanced food. Lactose, or milk sugar, is the primary carbohydrate in cow's milk. People who are lactose-intolerant due to age, genetics, etc., cannot produce the enzyme lactase, therefore, they can't digest milk sugar. This leads to unpleasant digestive symptoms and allergic reactions. However, raw milk contains lactobacilli bacteria which help digest lactose, allowing some lactose-intolerant people to enjoy milk again.
Raw milk in its natural, unaltered state is taken straight from the cow. That means the milk is not pasteurized or homogenized (to blend the milk and fat), and is minimally processed (usually just filtered and bottled with no additives). Milky Way raw milk is chilled to 40 degrees or below within seconds of leaving the cow, allowing no time for bacteria to multiply. When kept in your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below, this milk will last for three to four weeks – although you’ll probably drink it long before that!
Because Milky Way Farms believes cows come first, maintaining their health is the highest priority. The South Carolina Department of Health tests Milky Way milk monthly for e.coli, bacteria, and SCC (somatic cell count which can indicate mastitis infection), and yearly for TB, and Brucellosis (Bangs disease). In addition to these tests, the farm voluntarily tests its cows for Johnes, a disease similar to Crohn’s disease in humans. If not detected, Johnes can spread throughout a herd, significantly reducing production and ultimately resulting in a cow’s death. Milky Way cows currently post a JPL4 level for Johnes, and an SCC below 250,000 for five consecutive years. Also, the herd has been 100% artificially bred since its beginning. This ensures top milk production and excellent genetics.
LD’s children, Iris and Davis, grew up on the farm helping with daily chores and showing award-winning cows throughout the Southeast. Iris has a B.S. degree and Master’s degree in Dairy Science from Virginia Tech and lives in Alabama where she works for Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine. After attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Davis decided to return to the farm and now works side-by-side with his father.
Rest assured that the Peelers will continue doing what they love most: breeding fine Jersey cattle and producing the highest quality, best-tasting, Grade A raw milk available. It’s delicious, old-fashioned, cream-at-the-top milk, with the taste that’s only available from the healthiest cows. And Milky Way Farms wouldn’t have it any other way.