High Fashion Dives Into Dairy Farm

April 26, 2011

If you know the name Manolo Blahnik, you know the fashion industry well and know that high fashion costs a pretty penny. A pair of the designer shoes will most likely cost you $600 or much, much more. And you probably couldn't imagine anything farther removed from high fashion than a dairy farm. Yet, that's exactly what two of the top Manolo Blahnik executives hope to do.

They own a 325-acre farm in Litchfield County, Connecticut called Artethusa. George Malkemus and Tony Yurgaitis are the brains behind the operation, which sells a half gallon of milk for $4.49 to 23 retail accounts (that's two times the national average). Just 350 cows produce the premium milk and that limited quantity is a major factor in its price.

A sign that leads into the barn reads, "Every cow in this barn is a lady, please treat her as such." The cows receive beauty regimens where their coats are shampooed and their hides are vacuumed daily to prevent flies from landing on them. They sit on imported wood chips (from Canada) and eat only protein-enriched hay.

As you might imagine (or fear), this is hardly the first time that extremely expensive milk has been sold to customers. Tokyo-based Nakazawa Foods sells "Adult Milk," aimed at adults in stressful society, for the price of $43 per quart. What makes the milk so special? Just once a week, farmers milk a herd of cows right when the amount of melatonin in the milk reaches its peak. The hormone reportedly lowers anxiety and can even combat depression in some people. The extremely pricey milk supposedly contains three to four times as much melatonin as normal.

In the United Kingdom, Ahimsa Milk costs around $20 a gallon and comes from a farm set up by former Beatle, George Harrison. The 44 cows on the farm produce around 260 gallons of milk a week. They are milked by hands while listening to Sanskrit prayers over loudspeakers. Massages are given to any cows who are apprehensive about being milked.

Bottom line: If you're willing to pay enough for a premium product, it's probably out there.

Photo by Hickr