The Hancock family works to produce A2A2 milk from their Guernsey herd
ASH GROVE, MO. – After years of hard work and dedication to his family’s dairy, Matthew Hancock, a third-generation dairy farmer, and his wife Taryon decided it was time to embark on a new venture- Heritage Farm and Dairy.
Located in rural Ash Grove, Mo., where Matthew’s grandparents, Glen and Linnia Hancock, originally founded Hancock Dairy in 1953, Heritage Dairy and Farm opened in November 2020. They offer freshly bottled A2A2 Guernsey milk from their grass-fed cows. They also have a wide array of farm-to-table products such, as beef, pork, chicken, brats and baked goods, including, homemade bread, apple pies, turnovers, fruit tarts, muffins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many locally-sourced products.
Heritage Farm and Dairy’s chocolate milk is so delicious, it was recently entered in a local contest with five other brands, and they won by a landslide.
Happy cows make the best milk, according to Matthew.
“That’s the key to the whole operation,” Matthew said. “You can’t get milk out of an unhappy cow. The Guernseys have very rich milk with high cream content. They call it ‘Golden Guernsey milk’ for a reason. We focus on getting that rich cream because it’s great for cheese making and the coop pays more for guernsey milk.”
Matthew believe the highest standards are essential in milk production.
“Clean cows, clean stalls and a clean pasture equal a clean system. Sanitation is indispensable at a dairy and getting the milk cold quickly, and keeping it cold is imperative. One of the biggest factors in shelf life is keeping the milk cold after milking. Our milk has a shelf life of up to three weeks,” Matthew said.
Not all milk is created equal. In 2000, a New Zealand doctor Corran McLachlin learned proteins in milk affect people differently. Published research demonstrates that people who have discomfort when drinking ordinary cows’ milk were able to drink A2 milk. Originally all cows’ milk started with the A2 protein only. Over time, the A1 protein developed. Genetic variation has resulted in mixed herds.
Heritage Farm and Dairy sells only A2A2 milk. All of their cattle have been genetically tested and only the cows with the A2 gene are milked. The milk is cooled and bottled right out of the tank.
Both Matthew and Taryon believe fresh milk is healthier than milk sold in the supermarket.
“Pasteurization kills everything in the milk, both good and bad,” Matthew explained. “Fresh milk is much easier to digest and has more vitamins and minerals.”
“And, the vitamins aren’t cooked out of our milk and added back in like they do at the big dairy’s,” Taryon added. “If you look at milk in the store it says ‘added Vitamin D’ and other essential ingredients. They pasteurize milk at such a high temperature, everything is basically cooked out.”
“When milk is homogenized, it basically explodes all the molecules into very tiny pieces so that the milk can’t separate. That’s why store bought milk doesn’t have cream that rises to the top; they’ve taken everything out that they can sell someplace else, so you’re getting what’s left over. Our milk still has the cream in it so you can see the cream line. If you’re buying it from the store, all the cream will be removed and sold separately so you’re losing all that.”
Hancock Farm and Dairy’s website keeps customers up-to-date on available products and the price per pound. This allows their customers priority access to premium cuts of meat such as New York strip, rib eye and fillets.
“It’s a little overwhelming; we almost have to keep two inventories for our website and Facebook purchases. Our goal is to purchase a walk-in freezer where we can keep more beef on hand,” Matthew said.
“Our beef cows are on a farm in Walnut Grove, Mo., and my parents tend to them,” Taryon noted. “My dad babies his animals so their very well taken care of. Everyone says our beef is really good.”
Their cattle consists of both grass and grain fed.
“Most people prefer grain fed beef for the taste,” Matthew added.
Their breeding program consists of breeding all females to A2A2 Guernsey sires via AI. An A2A2 female bred to a A2A2 bull will produce A2A2 offspring. Their goal is to become exclusively A2A2. They typically begin spring breeding in early May and focus on calving during the spring and fall months when the weather is more favorable.
Uppermost on Taryon and Matthew’s minds when going into their new business were their two daughters Emma and Alyssa. Both girls excelled in FFA, as did their parents, Emma especially enjoys milking and working around the farm. After graduating from Ash Grove High School, Emma began working at the dairy daily.
They partner with Edgewood Dairy in Purdy, Mo. Selling their milk to a larger dairy gives them a set price rather than the fluctuating prices that are so devastating on small dairy farmers.
Matthew has worked all his life with his parents, Glen and Roxanne. With small dairy’s disappearing, one-by-one, what kept him consistently on the farm: “I’ve never had the desire to work in a factory or be inside all day or anything like that. I’ve tried lots of other things trying to find someway to make farming profitable.”