Dairy Advice

Dairy Advice


We share our Dairy Advice  experiences through our experts in animal nutrition, feeding, breeding, calf rearing, milking techniques, milk handling and hygiene, types of cattle, Health management, dairy agribusiness, feed production machinery, food storage

How to Start a Dairy Farm – beginners guide

Dairy farms take a lot of money, and capital to start up, way more than a beef cow-calf operation does. Know what you’re getting into and how you want to get into it before you decide to start a dairy farm.

If you are not starting for the first time and instead are taking over a farm from your parents or grand parents, this article may be only a review for you.



  1. Start a Dairy Farm Step 1
    Create a business plan. This is especially important for those who are going at it the first time. See more details about this on How to Start a Farm. When you do start a dairy farm for the first time, make sure you plan out things like manure management, herd health practices, feed rations, breeding schedules for each cow,calving, human resources (as you may need to hire some people to help you), weaning, calf care, milking cows, harvesting crops, etc. All of these should be completed before you start on the next steps.
  2. Start a Dairy Farm Step 2

    Capital. If you are looking to buy a dairy farm that already has the capital (buildings, equipment, machinery) needed, then you only have to check to make sure it has adequate sterile facilities for storing and pasteurizing milk, barns for holding cows, corrals, areas of feed and manure storage, a milking parlor, and enough land to grow feed for your cows.

    • If you are buying a piece of land that you need to build buildings on, then make sure you build silos, barns, manure holding lagoons or sloughs, corrals, stanchions for cows for milking (typically in the milk parlor) and area where it is easy to AI cows. You will also need a calving facility, and a facility where you can keep the calves you have to pull off the cows so they can be bottle fed and the cows go into milk production.
      • Make sure the size of the buildings match the size of herd you are wishing to not start with, but have when you have reached your maximum dairy herd size.
  3. Start a Dairy Farm Step 3
    Find a company you can sell your milk to. You may also have to go through some paperwork sent out by the government too, among other things, you will have to obtain a Quota (Quota means minimum/maximum allowable amount of milk to be sold each day. If you go over the quota, the excess milk with be dumped.
  4. Start a Dairy Farm Step 4
    Get your cows. Holsteins may be your best breed to get as far as more milk production per day is concerned. Make sure they are healthy, good producers with good udders, free of disease, and docile. You may want to get Jerseys and/or Brown Swiss to add to the quality of the milk in addition to the quantity you have to make on a daily basis.


  • Herd health is very important for dairy operations. Dairy cows can get sick quite easily, and are more prone to injury to their feet and udders than beef cows are, and are also prone to milk fever and ketosis after calving. In order to have a healthy dairy herd, stringent health practices must be in place.
  • Expect your breeding/calving/weaning schedule to not be as defined as in beef cattle, but more-or-less all over the map.
    • You will be calving 365 days of the year to keep a constant supply of milk being sold to producers.
  • Dairy manure stinks. Don’t let it accumulate in the barns, have a system where manure can be easily moved from the barn into the lagoons, to minimize the smell from the ammonia produced in the urine and feces.
  • Dairy cows require higher quality feeds than beef cattle do, and consequentially eat more so they can meet their bodily demands so they can produce milk. A good feed ration is necessary for this.
  • Make sure you have good practices to make your cows as comfortable as possible during the time you’re milking them.
  • Allow your calves to milk for at least a month to give them enough strength.
  • Winter can be a hard time for cattle, make sure you have a barn or such building to keep them out of the wind in winter.


  • Stay away from getting dairy bulls if you possibly can. They are very dangerous, more dangerous than beef bulls. That is why AI (artificial insemination) is a necessity for dairy operations, because it’s not worth your life to have a dairy bull around. An AI tech is a good asset to have around to breed your cows for you.
  • Don’t go into this operation with only a few thousand bucks in your bank account. You might as well be raising beef cows than going dairy, as a dairy operation takes big bucks to start up.
  • Don’t go in to this operation thinking it’s going to be a smooth ride. It’s not. You are VERY busy from before sunrise to past sunset every day, doing everything from milking cows to red tape to fixing machinery. It helps to have trusty hired hands with you to help you through the slog of daily chores, but even with hired hands you may have to supervise them to see how they are doing and what they are doing.

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