Starting a Dairy Farm? Here’s What You Need to Know


Are you looking to start a dairy farm? You’ve made a great choice. With the right steps, it can be a profitable business. Before you start, though, there are some things you should know. It takes careful planning and it should begin with a smart business plan, just like any other successful business starts.

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Before you start that plan, though, consider the following steps.

Find Out What Works

Why reinvent the wheel when there are likely hundreds of successful dairy farmers in your area? Talk to them to see what works and what doesn’t. You might be surprised to learn how many farmers are willing to talk about their business even if you might become a potential competitor.

Take the information that you learn and determine how it will affect you. Dairy farming is not a one-size-fits-all business. You can take bits and pieces of what you learn from each farmer and put them together to make your successful business. Just copying someone else’s business might not be the answer for you, but only you know what will work on your end.

Figure Out the Necessary Resources

Your resources are a crucial component of your success. Are you going to grow your own feed? If so, you will need the resources to make this reality. Figure out just how much feed you will need to sustain your cows whether dairy or dry, and then determine if you can make that happen. You will have to invest in machinery and put in the necessary labor to grow the grain and feed necessary for lactating cows.

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Figure Out What You Can Afford

Don’t think you have to go out and buy an entire lot of dairy cows, land, and machinery. You probably can’t afford that quite yet. If you are using FSA financing to get started, you’ll have limited capital right away. Start small and work your way up. Getting in over your head is a recipe for disaster as keeping up with the bills can be an impossible task. Take your time and build equity, as you can afford it, you can slowly expand, making your dairy farm the size you planned from the start.

Don’t Forget About the Waste

If you have a farm filled with cows, you’ll also have a farm filled with manure. You need to have a plan for this manure. Its best use is on the farm itself as fertilizer. If that’s not feasible, then you’ll need to make plans for proper waste management. Composting is an option, but only if you have the necessary equipment to make that happen. If you are unsure about how to proceed, consider your resources, including fellow farmers or your local extension office for suggestions.

Don’t forget that a large part of having a dairy farm is properly managing it. Using the skills you learned as an intern, you can start with your best foot forward. You’ll need your own solid plan in place though, in order to make it work. Starting with a business plan that is flexible and expandable is the best way to begin. This way you have a blueprint of how you want to proceed and can help your dairy farm get off on the right foot and stay there!

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