This dairy farm in Starr is the pride of farmer L.D. Peeler, Jr. A third-generation dairy farmer from Gaffney, Peeler left a career in the corporate world in 1978 when he purchased 12 Jersey cows from his father and jumped into the family business. Just nine years later, Peeler relocated his farm to rural Anderson County, where it remains successful.
Though Peeler’s herd of Jersey cows, which now numbers 120, are used for dairy, he does maintain a small stock of beef cattle. All of the cows at Milky Way Farm are grass-fed, and none are exposed to hormones or steroids. In fact, Milky Way Farm grows its own hay for the cows or buys it locally, depending on how well it grows each season. The result is sweet, healthy, raw milk.
The raw milk distributed by Milky Way Farm is bottled on site, being chilled to below 40 degrees Fahrenheit immediately after leaving the cow to prevent bacteria from growing. Peeler is an advocate of the health and flavor benefits of raw milk and maintains a sterile farm that surpasses raw milk industry standards through rigorous testing beyond what is required by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). He delivers his milk to several locations for regular customers who come from surrounding states to buy gallons of the milk. Raw milk is strictly regulated and not legal for human consumption in many states due to the risk of dangerous bacteria such as listeria, salmonella, and e. Coli.
Most milk is pasteurized, or heated to 161.6 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, to eliminate any possible bacteria. Proponents of raw milk claim that this process destroys nutrients in the milk and also makes it more difficult to digest. However, many health officials counter that argument, stating that pasteurized milk indeed contains the same nutrients and enzymes as raw milk. In any case, the option of buying raw milk is available in South Carolina, with Milky Way Farm as one of nine dairy farms licensed to sell the product.
Peeler’s business remains a family endeavor. He works alongside his son, Davis, who studied agriculture in college. Though his daughter lives and works in Rome, Georgia, milk runs through her veins, too. She studied dairy science at Virginia Tech and now supervises the dairy at Berry College.
Milky Way Farm sells both whole and lower fat milk, cream, and buttermilk. Several retail outlets throughout the state sell the milk, and it may also be purchased directly from the farm by appointment. Those from remote spots who wish to partake in the all-natural milk can place an order and have it delivered to one of Peeler’s designated locations.
Much of this information is attributed to the Milky Way Farm website, found below.