Rigby family business continuing to supply high-quality raw milk
What started as a son working for his father on a family dairy farm has evolved into a multi-generation business in providing high-quality raw milk to customers in Rigby and East Idaho.
Dale and Doris Mortimer began their Jersey cow business, called Daloris Dairy, in 1986 with only a few cows. More than 30 years later, they now operate a 60-cow business that produces nearly 600 gallons of raw milk per day on a 300-acre farm that supports the cows.
“We are a Grade A dairy, so we meet all of the qualifications of a regular Grade A dairy, which is cleanliness and keeping your cows healthy,” Dale said.
Dale began working for his father on the family dairy farm located east of Rigby at 4246 E. 400 N. before he became a teacher at Bonneville High School where he taught art for 35 years. To supplement the family’s income, Dale and Doris decided to start a dairy business.
“And it has just grown since then,” Dale said.
The family is highly self-sufficient, growing all of the feed on their farm and selling the milk at the store, eliminating the middleman to distribute the milk.
“Even though we may not sell the most milk, we’re probably doing a little better because we’re not paying that middleman,” Dale said.
Not only do the cows produce mass amounts of milk, the Mortimers have also shown their cows at fairs all over the state and as far as Wisconsin for the World Dairy Expo, as well as sponsoring their own 4-H group.
“We try to be involved in the community as well,” Dale said.
Dale explained that part of the reason they decided to sell raw milk is because it’s a more steady market.
“The dairy industry is kind of a difficult industry because the prices are up and down depending on the market, so it’s really hard to control your market,” he said. “And that’s when we decided, ‘well, maybe if we went into the raw milk sales, we could control that market a little better.’”
Because they are in the raw milk industry, Daloris Dairy is able to set its own prices. Dale said they currently charge $2.25 for a half gallon of milk in a glass bottle with a one-time $3 deposit per bottle. They also offer the milk in a plastic gallon container for $5; however, Dale said customers tend to prefer milk in glass bottles.
“It’s been proven that the glass maintains the flavor better than the plastic,” he said.
Any milk that isn’t sold within a week is sent to the commercial market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and is made into cheese and other dairy products.
Not only does the raw milk industry provide the Mortimers with more flexibility in the setting prices, it also provides consumers with important bacteria that they otherwise wouldn’t get with homogenized milk.
“The pasteurization kills all of the bacteria,” Dale said. “When we digest, we need the good bacteria as well. The raw milk provides that. We’re actually living in a way too sterile of a society nowadays compared to what they did 50 to 100 years ago.”
In addition to the nutrients raw milk provides, Dale said they have also received comments from customers who said the milk has helped eliminate their allergies, and that some people who are lactose intolerant can actually drink the raw milk.
Dale said the business has evolved over the years, with the most recent change coming with a self-serve system allowing customers to purchase milk nearly any time of day. Tuesday through Friday customers can buy milk 24 hours a day. While Monday and Saturday they have special business hours, and Sunday they are closed.
As it was when they first started their business, the Mortimers’ main goal is to continue raising quality cows in a good environment so they can share the many health benefits of the natural milk.
“There’s definitely a market for raw milk,” Dale said. “Most of our people have big families. They want to get back to natural foods, away from the processing. It really has a lot of benefits.”
Dale and Doris have eight children — four daughters and four sons — two of which still help in the family business.
“My dad used to say, only Jersey cows give Jersey milk,” Dale said.