How To Start A Dairy Farm: Cost, Cow, And More

Dairy farming is a class of agriculture aimed at long-term production of milk, which is processed, either on the farm or at a dairy plant, for the eventual sale of a dairy product. In other words, dairy farming is when a cow is reared for the sole aim of milk production.

This business may not be popular, yet it is among the many agricultural ventures that are worth investing into. Hence, for someone who is looking for a good business to do in Nigeria, he or she can consider dairy farming.

Although any mammal can produce milk, commercial dairy farms are typically one-species enterprises. In developed countries, dairy farms typically consist of high producing dairy cows. Other species used in commercial dairy farming include sheep, goats, and camels. In Italy, donkey dairies are growing in popularity to produce an alternative milk source for human infants.  

Beginner Guide For Starting A Dairy Farm

For all new starters of dairy farming, the entrepreneurial dream starts from having a 100 cow farm. It is recommended to start as small as possible. However, starting a farm with 1-2 cows makes no sense at all.  If both the cows get dry in a similar timeframe, you’re left with no produce at all.  And it is extremely difficult to maintain the milk cycle.

Also, you need to be knowledgeable in the dairy farming business. The first and the most important thing you need to know is that you must either be experienced, knowledgeable, or bring in an expert when starting a dairy farming business.

You might be asking why this is actually necessary. The truth is that you are dealing with cows, and they most times might be aggressive, stubborn, or not complying. So you need to be experienced in other to know what to do to them when the time comes.

Also, bear in mind that you will be dealing with cows in this business and it is quite risky as the cows can get aggressive without warning. Therefore, you need to be experienced in handling cows and understanding their mood. In order to acquire such knowledge and experience in the business, it is advisable that you work for a dairy farmer before you consider starting your farm.

But do not let these be a setback or makes you feel reluctant into setting up your own dairy farming business because in the real sense, especially when you look at it in another way, it’s for your benefit in the long run. Usually, experts recommend starting a dairy farm of 5 cows/buffalos.

The question will be, which breed to select for starting dairy farming? One can buy five pregnant animals to start with. The same can be bought from animal bazaars or existing dairy farms.

You can also talk to other dairy farmers. Try as much as possible to make all the necessary inquiries on how they manage their dairy farms. You can also speak with veterinarians, nutritionists, agronomists, bankers, extension educators, and others that can provide a different point of view on the management of your dairy.

To run a successful dairy farm, one needs a few basic and especially fundamental things, which include:

  • 24 hours of clean water availability;
  • cool and dry (floor) shade for animals to rest;
  • loose housing; and
  • around the year fodder availability.

The lactating cows need 4-5 liters of water intake from different sources to produce 1 liter of milk. So, they can drink water as per their requirement. In loose housing, the animals are free to roam around within the boundaries of the dairy farm.

The freedom to roam around makes the cows stress free. Holstein Frisian cows (the white and black cows) or Jersey (the brown cow) need colder environments due to their European origins.  In India, crossbreeds are reared, which are more resistant and tolerant of Indian weather. They need shade which has cold shadows which allows them to live stress-free.

The shade can be provided from high-cost cement sheets, iron sheets to low-cost shade net, bamboo shade, etc. Iron sheets for roofing are popular – a white reflector paint can be used to cool down the temperature below the iron sheet roof.

However, the best shade is from Trees within the boundaries of your dairy farm. You’ll see cows happily resting most of the time under the dry floor of trees.

Guide On Purchasing Good Cow Breeds For Dairy Farming

Another important thing is to purchase the best cows for breeding. One can also crossbreed if one wants to get a better result.

Lists of good breeding cows are:

  • White Fulani
  • Brahman
  • Tregian
  • Friesians
  • Ayrshires
  • Guernsey
  • Jerseys
  • Sahiwals
  • Boran
  • Bunaji

It is also important to know that each of these cows or cattle has its peculiar characterize. It will profit the intending farmer to inquire about them before purchasing.

Guide On Feeding Dairy Cows

The next important step is to determine the cow feeds. Green forage like leguminous forage plant, sweet potato vines, and many others like wheat straw, Rice straw maize Stover, etc can be given to your cows. You should chop all feeds and put them in the troughs or a container to avoid been wasted.

The quality should be about 40-70kg of chopped forage per day that is, in the morning and in the evening. Note that for the administration of the mineral, Maclic super, should be given to your dairy cows and Maclic plus for your young claves.

Housing Requirement For Dairy Cows

You should prepare comfortable housing for your cows when starting dairy farming. Make a housing that is free from much sun and rain. It should have proper fencing at night to prevent thieves. Also, you should consult a builder who is experienced in it to avoid any mistakes. And keep costs in mind when doing so.

Diseases and Pests Affecting Dairy Cows

#1. Lack of Good Nutrition

If your cows are lacking in good nutrition, which could be caused by dirty milk, dirty buckets, overfeeding. Then it will show signs such as calf scours, loss of appetite, a rise in temperature, dejectedness, and dehydration.

You can control it by reducing or completely withdraw milk for two to three meals or you can also replace it with warm water mixed with half a tablespoon of baking powder plus two tablespoons of common salt and 110g of glucose – should be mixed with 4.5 liters of warm water.

#2. Ecto-parasites

Parasites like fleas, ticks, lice, or flies may attack your cows and you can get rid of them by regular dipping or spray with approved and effective acaricides and insecticides.

#3. Calf Pneumonia

The disease can happen if the calf is exposed to sudden chilly conditions. The noticeable signs are shallow and rapid breathing, coughing, and refusing to eat. It can be controlled by housing them properly and also calling your veterinarians.

#4. Infection

This could be caused by viruses and bacteria. The signs you will notice are dehydration and cows or calf will start weakening fast. You should contact your veterinarian.

#5. Endoparasites

Just like flatworms, liver flukes may also attack your cows. You should consider Dose calves with recommended anthelmintics at four months and every six months thereafter.

Guide on Packaging Dairy Farming Milk

As soon as your milking is ready for marketing, you should package your product attractively. Because people are attracted to beautiful things. You can package it in a bottle or whatever way you want. Just make sure you brand your product to stand out in the dairy farming business and attract customers.

Other Things You Should Consider In Starting A Dairy Farming

  • Create good waste management on your farm to prevent infection from spreading.
  • For your labor, you might want to do it yourself but know that it won’t be easy. Consider having an assistant or your family members might be of help.
  • Capital, a loan can be granted by the government or agricultural banks. Apply with a good business plan. Whatever you are trying to purchase try as much as possible to lower cost.
  • Make a business plan; have a record-keeping of your dairy farming business. Write in it what has been bought, sold, or done. A record helps you to know where you are heading in your business.
  • Know the feed type and method that works best for you and stick to it. Know that what works for others might not work for you.

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