Growing a dairy farm is a good area for investment however, the task of building a dairy farm with low budget is what every farmer involved in dairy farming desires. Generally, Dairy farms take a lot of money and capital to start up.
To be able to effectively run a dairy farm, you must make research to find out what you’re getting into and how you want to get into it before you decide to start a dairy farm. This guide will help you with tips on how to run a lucrative dairy farm with low budget.
Dairying cannot become a profitable profession unless determined attention is paid to milk and calf production. Healthy livestock is fundamental to the welfare of a nation as it provides milk, meat, hide, drought power and fuel. It produces stability to the agricultural-industrial economy.
The most common dairy animals are cows, goats (good for a small farm). Each one has many dairy breeds, and local knowledge is your best way to choose between them. Research at government institutions, university agricultural extensions, and established dairy farms and ask for info to help you make the decision.
To begin your dairy farm, you must ask the following questions;
- Is there local demand for the breed’s milk (based on species and milk fat %)? What about for butter and cheese (where a high fat % is useful)?
- How much time and money does it take to raise a calf to milk-producing age? How much can you sell the male calves for?
- Decide on a food source. Concentrated feed requires less labor but more money. New farms often save on costs by supplementing it with Management Intensive Rotational Grazing (MIRG). Look at land rental prices in your area and determine how many cattle per acre it can support.
- Renting land is usually better than purchasing for a new farm. Wait until your farm is well-established and you no longer need the financial flexibility.
Starting your Dairy Farm, one needs to put some of these practices and technical demands in place, to optimize startup cost:
Create a breeding plan.
Before you commence your Dairy Farm, you have to make a breeding plan. The regular breeding and genital disease-free herd are cherished by a prospective dairy farmer. The tool to improve livestock quality and production depends on artificial insemination (AI) of local cows.
Artificial insemination programs are now widespread in many African countries. The savings are not as significant and the programs vary in quality, but it is still usually worth it.
Study farming practices.
If you don’t have dairy farm experience already, take some time to learn about breeding, calving, manure management, weaning, milking cows, and crop management. Farming requires a great deal of time, work, and knowledge.
If this is all new to you, it is necessary to get some work experience on another dairy farm first.
Invest in capital.
A farm requires a large one-time expenditure to get started. Buying an existing dairy farm makes the task simpler and can save money if you’re willing to do some repairs yourself. Whether you plan to buy or start it all yourself, make sure you’ll have the following facilities:
A sterile facility for storing milk, and for pasteurizing if required in your area
Dry, sunny sheds or barns protected from weather and temperature changes
Milking parlor with stanchions
Feed storage and manure storage
Separate living space for calves
Equipment (including tractors) and equipment storage area
Well for watering cattle, plus water transport system to tanks in pasture
Irrigation system for pasture (optional)
Note — if possible, start small and give yourself room to expand to a larger herd
Find a good source for animals.
Inspect all dairy animals personally before buying, including several milking tests. The animal should be healthy and vaccinated against diseases. Ideally, purchase the animals right after calving, on its second or third lactation (when milk production is highest).
Wait to buy the second half of the herd when the first group is about to go dry, so your farm can produce milk year-round.
Research the local milk market.
If you’re starting with just a few animals, talk to nearby dairy farmers for advice on selling to local stores and individuals. If you have a slightly larger herd, you can get a more stable income by selling the milk to a company that will handle distribution. This is to create a channel where your products can be sold.
Contact the government or appropriate authorities where necessary.
Your local or regional government may require permits and paperwork to run a farm, sell milk, irrigate your land, and/or hire staff to help you.
Create a business plan.
Put all your financial estimates into a plan that covers the first few years of your business. In addition to the necessary items above, remember to include the estimated cost of veterinary care per animal, and the cost of any labour you plan to hire.
Also look into an additional source of profit: selling manure. It is actually better to consult an expert in this area before commencing your own, especially where you don’t have sound knowledge.
You can contact various organizations for startup loan even if you don’t have collateral (insert link for content on online loans without collateral).
Use the average milk prices (or slightly lower) when estimating future profits. You don’t want your business to go under if milk prices drop.
TIPS ON HOW TO CARRY ON YOUR DAIRY FARM
Mark each individual animal.
Assuming you have more than a few animals, you’ll need to mark them to tell them apart. This will help you track individual milk production and illness. Tagging is a common method.
Control the spread of disease. Always buy disease-free animals and keep them isolated from other animals during transportation to your farm.
Quarantining new arrivals (and animals that fall sick) is recommended, especially if they do not have trustworthy, recent health records. Your local government or veterinarian can give you specific advice about diseases in your area.
Equipment shared between farms can spread disease. Try to confirm where the equipment has been used and whether the animals there were healthy.
Disease-carrying ticks are a major problem for livestock. Inspect animals for ticks regularly and keep the shed area clear of brush.
Give the animals proper nutrition.
Feeding cattle and other livestock can be a complicated business. There are many different kinds of fodder and forage plants, which provide different amounts of energy, protein, roughage, and various nutrients. A veterinarian or experienced farmer can help you work with the food you have available.
Mineral licks and/or mineral supplements are an important part of the animal’s diet.
Moldy feed or feed stored in the same area as pesticides and other contaminants can transfer dangerous toxins to the milk.
Dairy animals have high nutrition requirements compared to animals raised for meat. Improper nutrition can lead to lower milk production or lower quality milk.
Milk the animal frequently.
Milk-producing animals typically need milking two or three times a day. Move the animal to a clean location. Wash and dry your hands and the udder before milking.
If you’ve never milked an animal before, learn how to milk a cow or goat.
Understand the breeding cycle.
You will need to breed your female animals regularly to keep them lactating as often as possible. The cycle of breeding, calving, and weaning calves have implications for the animal’s nutrition needs, health, and of course milk production. Our guide on cows gives you the basics, but this will vary based on species and age.
Unlike farms that raise livestock for meat, you will be calving all year round to keep milk production steady. Keeping track of where each animal is in the cycle is vital so you can stick to a plan that keeps your income as regular as possible.
Plan for changes in your herd.
Whether to sell, slaughter, or keep an animal is one of the toughest questions for a dairy farmer. Culling allows you to replace a low-yield animal with a higher-quality replacement, and to increase the genetic quality of your herd.
Both of these factors are important but performing them without a plan can add massive costs for replacement animals. Take this into account in your business plan, and include the cost/profit of producing each male and female calf as well.
Keeping a dairy farm can be easily done with the help of the above listed points. That means you can now carry on your dairy farm with low budget.