So You Want to Start a Dairy?


So you want to start a dairy?  While it is not unheard of in our region, the dairy industry is definitely not the most common venue for those starting out in agriculture.

Lynda Foster sits on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and discussed this idea with Northern Ag Network while in Kansas City, Missouri, for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention.  If you’re looking to start a dairy from scratch, she had these suggestions:

-Talk to a land grant university that has a dairy program.  They’ll be able to discuss with you the cost of such an endeavor and give you recommendations for classes.  

-Research information online including possible online courses. 

-Visit and tour different dairy farms and ask to job shadow/intern for those producers.  

Foster told us that, “Unless you’re actually on the farm milking those cows two or three times a day every day and managing the whole total scope of it, you really have no idea of the time and commitment it takes.”  Therefore, a love of the industry and a willingness to work are must-have qualities for anyone looking to start up a dairy.

The main focus of a dairy farm is obviously to produce dairy products.  Part of that scenario, however, is beef production.  With the price of cattle skyrocketing, Foster says that they’ve taken different strategies of farm management.  They sell bull calves immediately even though they have the land to background the animals.  She says they get more money for the calves and save on labor.  She adds that the price for cows is also high enough that you don’t keep them around for long if they’re not producing.



© Northern Ag Network 2014

Haylie Shipp

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