Meet the Farmers

For the Love of Dairy

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 family 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.

milky way farms barn

In 1987, L.D. decided to relocate his family and the dairy to Milky Way Farm in Starr, South Carolina. Today, he and his children Iris and Davis, milk 120 registered Jersey cows. The Peelers believe in producing milk from healthy, contented Jersey cows that eat and live the way nature intended – grazing grass on a relaxed pasture. In addition, Milky Way cows are never given hormones or steroids.

Since 2003, Milky Way Farm has bottled and sold Grade A Raw Milk to farm markets, various grocery stores and private families in search of the goodness of local, natural milk. They understand that nothing needs to be added to milk to enhance its taste or nutrients and likewise nothing should be taken away – especially when it is from grass-fed, pastured cows. Pure raw milk has all the vitamins and minerals essential to making it a complete and perfectly 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 cannot 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 37 degrees within seconds of leaving the cow, allowing no time for bacteria to multiply. When kept in your refrigerator at 40oF or below, this milk will last for three to four weeks – although you will probably drink it long before that!

In February 2021, the Peelers opened a new state of the art creamery with the hopes of providing all milk lovers an option for safe, nutritious and delicious local milk. The family has worked hard to provide customers who feel safer drinking pasteurized milk with products that are full of flavor and nutrients. Milky Way Farm’s whole milk and chocolate milk are vat pasteurized and non-homogenized. Learn more about vat pasteurization here.

Because Milky Way Farm 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 like 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 JPL6 level for Johnes, and an SCC below 250,000 for well over a decade. 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. She and her husband Brad have two children and the whole family is active in different aspects of the operation. After attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Davis decided to return to the farm and now works side-by-side with his father. Davis also has two children that enjoy living and working on the farm. The family’s grandchildren love helping on the farm and enjoying drinking the fruits of their labor.

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, all A2 milk available. It is delicious, old-fashioned, cream-at-the-top milk, with the taste that is only available from the healthiest cows. And Milky Way Farms would not have it any other way.

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