This week, Dungeness Valley Creamery offers new A2 raw milk, which owners say can be easier on people’s stomachs to digest. They’ve also added new labels, featuring the owners and their family, and Photo courtesy of Dungeness Valley Creamery

This week, Dungeness Valley Creamery offers new A2 raw milk, which owners say can be easier on people’s stomachs to digest. They’ve also added new labels, featuring the owners and their family, and Photo courtesy of Dungeness Valley Creamery

Creamery owners talk rebranding effort, recalls

New self-contained manure pond to finish this month

Ryan and Sarah McCarthey hope customers will be on board with a new rebranding effort for their Dungeness Valley Creamery.

It’s been more than a week since their farm’s raw milk received an all-clear following a 12-day voluntary recall after five lab-positive campylobacteriosis cases were found in milk.

The McCartheys said they’ve been considering a rebrand, with new labels and messaging and a new milk for a while, and the recall pushed it forward.

“After all the testing and cleaning and resetting everything, we felt it was a good opportunity,” Ryan said.

Sarah said they cleaned and tested their machines, then groups of cows and finally individual cows where the bacterium was found on one cow, Fiddlehead.

“There was no way for us to know because the cleaning and methods of prevention were working,” she said. “It must have been some weird, flukey situation.”

The couple said the Department of Health and a state veterinarian asked to have the cow culled to prevent any potential future issues.

Along with other regular testing efforts, they’ve added campylobacteriosis to their routine as well and plan to test each cow that has a calf before its milk goes for sale.

At this juncture, Ryan estimates about a $50,000 impact from the recall, including dumped product and testing.

Five-year-old Mae Shantz of Sequim checks in with one of the many new calves at Dungeness Valley Creamery as Mae’s mom Heidi looks on. This week, the farm begins distributing A2 milk after years of genetically testing to offer the niche milk, which the farm’s owners say is easier on many people’s stomachs. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Five-year-old Mae Shantz of Sequim checks in with one of the many new calves at Dungeness Valley Creamery as Mae’s mom Heidi looks on. This week, the farm begins distributing A2 milk after years of genetically testing to offer the niche milk, which the farm’s owners say is easier on many people’s stomachs. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Product change

Despite the immediate impact, the McCartheys are looking to the future with their jersey cows.

They’re pursuing a “niche within a niche,” they said, selling only 100 percent A2 raw milk starting this week. The couple says it is “more natural and common in human and goat milk.”

Sarah said they’ve been breeding their cows for years to only offer A2 milk and that the beta casein protein found in A2 milk can be gentler on people’s stomachs.

The McCartheys plan to incorporate a new tagline, too: “A2 Raw Jersey Milk — for all the right reasons.”

They’ll stop selling cream for now due to its high labor, but they’ll evaluate that after the A2 milk launch.

Milk prices will go up too after keeping the price the same for most of the farm’s 15 years, they said.

Ryan said margins have remained slim since a 2019 voluntary recall of products after E. Coli was found in a sample leading them to implement more cleaning measures as costs have gone up while their milk prices have not.

“We never want to pass on the costs,” Ryan said. “We run the farm the way we think the customers would want us to.”

“We like to keep costs as low as possible because we want everyone to have it,” Sarah said. “We love what we do.”

At its highest production, the farm had 77 jersey cows, and the McCartheys said they were still selling out of product, which they attribute partially to price.

“It’s some of the cheapest raw milk in the country but we use some of the most premium jerseys in the U.S., we use solar power, and some of the most advanced cleaning systems,” Sarah said.

The couple said they’ve been dragging their feet to raise prices but are now kicking themselves for not being in a feasible position due to slim margins.

“We don’t want to put the business at risk with another recall,” Sarah said. “We want to provide a service that’s sustainable in every way.”

“We hope people get behind the launch,” Sarah said.

“We might sell less milk. We might need to reduce the herd, or we need to do something else because it’s not worth it, which hurts.

“I’m not OK with not having this lifestyle. This is what I went to school for. I know the jersey breed. It’d be a shame not to do this.”

During an excursion, Candace Makela, Ciaran Makela, and Geran Voss eat ice cream while watching the sites at Dungeness Valley Creamery. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

During an excursion, Candace Makela, Ciaran Makela, and Geran Voss eat ice cream while watching the sites at Dungeness Valley Creamery. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Family farm

Along with the new milk, the McCartheys are putting new packaging on their product with pictures of their family.

With help from a graphic design company and a grant, Ryan said they worked towards a brand identity to reflect their values as a family farm.

Rather than a generic farm picture, they chose pictures of their sons Tyler and Wade and their family.

“Both kids are excited to be part of the farm,” Sarah said.

Tyler will appear on the one gallon milk containers, the whole family on the half gallon, and the boys on the quart and pint. A new photo of Sarah as a modern milkmaid will be added to the quarts and pints later, the McCartheys said.

A new, above-ground, self-contained liquid manure pond is set to finish this month and reduce odor at Dungeness Valley Creamery, owners Ryan and Sarah McCarthey said. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

A new, above-ground, self-contained liquid manure pond is set to finish this month and reduce odor at Dungeness Valley Creamery, owners Ryan and Sarah McCarthey said. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

New project

Construction is expected to finish this month on a new self-contained, above-ground liquid manure pond south of the farm, Ryan said.

They’ve sought to decommission their existing pond to reduce odor, and move the pond further away from the Dungeness River.

Ryan said it fits in with one of their three values to invest each year in environmental stewardship, animal care and product quality.

With a cost share grant and veterans benefits, Ryan said it’ll cost the farm about 10 percent of the total cost to build and connect the new pond.

For more information and updates about the Dungeness Valley Creamery, 1915 Towne Road, call 360-683-0716 or visit facebook.com/dungenessvalleycreamery.

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