Dairy farming is a type of agriculture that involves the bulk production of milk. Although we identify dairy with cows, milk is also produced by camels, sheep, and goats.
The milk might be processed on-site, delivered to a dairy factory for processing, or distributed to retailers. A dairy is a farm that produces milk and other goods like cheese and butter.
Every day, specialized dairy farmers collect milk from dairy cows. Their everyday activities include milking and feeding the cows, as well as assisting moms with childbirth (calves).
It is critical to provide your cattle with the appropriate nutrients to enhance milk output. As a result, dairy farmers must engage nutritionists to design diet programs for their cattle.
We’ll go through how to start a dairy farm in the following part of this post.
WHAT IS A DAIRY FARM BUSINESS?
A dairy farm is a business that specializes in long-term milk production, which is then processed on-site or at a dairy factory.
A dairy farm, like any other business, is successful when management and/or owners focus on long-term growth, focusing on components such as:
- Learning the biological procedures that motivate raw milk production, as well as the technology that can help them. The correct equipment and tools can help to improve health and safety policies and increase efficiency within a dairy farm business.
- Profitable day-to-day operations with consideration for the environment and the ultimate product. Effective dairy farm managers understand how to optimise livestock food and herd size to keep costs under control and milk production steady.
- Making informed long-term investments to safeguard their assets and boost profits over time. Keeping track of farm costs and returns, as well as developing innovative ways to cut costs without losing quality, can help the dairy farm become more lucrative in the long run.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE STARTING YOUR DAIRY FARM
1. Create a business plan and a SWOT analysis
It is critical to keep in mind that a dairy farm is a company. The development of a detailed business plan as well as a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of your strategy and available resources will be important to the success of your organization.
How many cows are you going to milk? Where are you going to sell your milk? Will you hire people? How much money do you need to live on after you’ve paid all of your dairy bills? A cash flow plan should be included in your company plan to assist you to create reasonable expectations for your expenses and cost of production.
2. Consult the professionals
Whether you grew up on a dairy and learned how to feed and milk cows from your parents and grandparents or not, you should still consult with dairy industry specialists as you construct your company plan and management system.
Other dairy farmers are excellent resources. Visit dairy farm field days and open houses in your neighborhood and other parts of the state or country.
When visiting other farms, learn what has worked well and what has not, but bear in mind that just because something works on one farm does not indicate it will work on your farm.
Consult with nutritionists, veterinarians, agronomists, bankers, extension educators, and anyone who can provide varied viewpoints on dairy management.
3. Make a cropping and feeding plan
Whether you feed a TMR (total mixed ration), graze your cattle, or a combination of the two, dairy cattle require a specific set of nutrients to sustain themselves, make milk, and rear a calf.
If these animals are to be reared on the farm, work with a nutritionist to develop feeds for lactating cows, dry cows, and heifers. Many dairy farms generate the majority, if not all, of their forages as well as a large portion of their concentrate (grain) requirements.
Producing your feed requires land, time, and equipment for growing and harvesting crops.
Employing bespoke operators to plant and harvest crops, or arranging with neighbors to share equipment and labor, can help you save money while you establish your dairy business and development capital. Several farms use double cropping systems, with minor grain crops planted after maize silage.
4. Create a waste management strategy
Manure is abundant in dairy cattle. While this manure is frequently considered waste, it may be a valuable resource on the farm if managed and used appropriately. Manure management will be intimately linked to your cropping and feeding plans.
If you can employ a double cropping system on your farm, you will not only be able to produce more feed, but you will also be able to apply more manure to your land.
Composting and anaerobic digestion of manure are options to direct land application of manure. While these options may give extra revenue and other benefits to your dairy, they will also increase the capital expenditure required to get your dairy started.
A manure management plan is necessary for all farms, but depending on the size of your farm, a nutrient management plan may also be necessary. For more information, contact your county Conservation District or local Extension office.
5. Increase your equity over time
Dairy farming necessitates a significant capital commitment. Land, facilities, equipment, and cows are all expensive, and few new dairy farmers will have the funds to buy everything when they first start. Many new farmers start by purchasing cows and then renting a farm and land. These initial animals are the equity in your farm.
Also, invest in more advanced equipment such as an industrial steam boiler. Since steam can be directed and applied for certain time frames to ensure adequate and uniform heating of the milk, a dairy steam boiler is an excellent technique to generate the necessary heat for milk processing.
Steam power is also essential for sterilizing surfaces and equipment to prevent the formation of hazardous bacteria, as well as heating the dairy facility and carrying out other everyday chores required by food processors.
6. Milk production is a biological system
The dairy farm is reliant on the cow’s capacity to live a healthy life, produce milk, and have calves who will become the farm’s future generation. Dairy farming necessitates sophisticated procedures for herd health, reproduction, and calf care, in addition to nutrition and financial considerations.
7. A single size does not fit all
Every dairy farm is unique due to the producer’s preferences, resource constraints, market demands, and other factors. Numerous systems can be profitable. Some farmers outsource their replacements to a specialized heifer raiser, while others diversify by selling crops, raising steers, or establishing a home-bottling plant. How you farm will be determined by your desires, resources, and motivation.
8. Remember you are a manager first
All of the preceding components are only pieces of the puzzle. To be successful, you must integrate all aspects of management into a comprehensive farm plan. Nevertheless, you are not required to complete all of the tasks. Collaborate with reputable advisors to help you develop a strategy, and focus on your strengths.