It is not an easy thing to start a dairy farm, and this is because it needs a lot of investments in terms of resources. A dairy farm is not the same as a typical meat operation venture. Whoever wants to have a dairy farm has to consider all the factors involved carefully. A dairy farm cannot be handled with kid’s gloves, and it is genuinely a serious business.
Outlining your Dairy Farm
Selecting Species, Variety, and Breed
Cows, water buffalo (especially in South Asia countries), and goats are the most used animals on dairy farms. Goats are the best if you are thinking of a very compact dairy farm. However, you should know that for each one you go for, there are several breeds to choose from, and it will be good if you base your selection on local knowledge.
It can also help you reach out to the agricultural extension departments, public institutions like agric ministries, or even dairy farms that have very good track records in your area. This is going to help you a lot when it comes to concluding.
Sorting Food Source Matter
You may go for concentrated feed, which is quicker to source but more expensive. There is a practice amongst new farms in which they reduce expenses by using supplements. You also need to consider the land price and the number of animals that can be comfortably accommodated on.
If you are going for cows, they typically consume around 4% of the total body weight every day. So, you have to make sure that your pasture can provide enough food. This is important as you will also need to store enough food that will last through the winter. Overall, it makes more economic sense to rent the land instead of buying a new farm.
Craft a Plan for Breeding
Bulls are known for being very aggressive, and handling one all through the year is far from cheap. Most farm owners prefer to issue payment for the bulls’ service when it comes to breeding, while others go for artificial insemination.
Artificial insemination is the most cost-effective option here, and it is becoming more widely accepted in various parts of Africa and Asia. The male’s precise ratio to females in the herd will depend on the species and the age of the males. A young and healthy bull can service as much as 25 cows, but an adult bull can service even up to 40 cows.
Study the Various Aspects of Farming
If you are one of those without any experience, you will have to devote yourself to learning a lot about manure, calving, weaning, breeding, crop management, and even how to milk cows. Farming is a very tedious thing to do so you have to be properly prepared. A good tip here is for you to work as an intern on an existing dairy farm. This is going to open your eyes to a lot of things.
It was hinted earlier that you would need to devote a lot of resources, including finances. Some can buy a dairy farm that already exists, but that is very expensive. But if you are going to start it all on your own then you need to be sure that some vital facilities are in place and these are as follows:
- Sterile factory for the storage and pasteurization of milk
- Sheds that offer protection from temperature and weather
- Tractors and other equipment alongside an area for storing them
- Milking section complete with the stanchions
- Irrigation system to be used for the pasture
- Storage areas for manure and feed
- Watering wells for the animals alongside the system to transport water to the tanks
Locate Excellence Source of Animals
Ensure that you conduct a proper inspection of all the dairy animals before you go ahead to make a purchase, and this will include conducting numerous milking tests. All selected animals must be healthy and must have received vaccination against the specified diseases as outline by the animal health ministry.
Purchase of the animals must be made immediately after calving is done, during the second or third lactation, and this is because that is when the production of milk is highest. Your purpose here is for you to be able to do milking all through the year.
Analysis of the Local Market for Milk and Milk Products
For those who are carrying the dairy farm with a handful of animals, you can hold discussions with the other dairy farmers in your area so you can have a good idea of the market. But if you are controlling a sizable farm, you will need to have partnerships with companies to sell directly to them and coordinate the distribution themselves.
Other Useful Tips
In all you do, always remember to handle the following:
- Design a solid business plan
- Work with government agencies
- Tag all the animals individually
- Provide excellent nutrition for the animals
- Have a first-class control of diseases
- Milking should be done regularly
- Comprehend the breeding cycle very well
- Get set for changes to the herd