By Dr Jolly Kabirizi
As a manager, you have to balance many factors to keep the dairy cattle enterprise profitable, besides ensuring your cows are always taken care of properly. If you’re just starting in this industry, here are some things you should consider:
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.
Control the spread of disease
Your local Veterinary officer can give you specific advice about diseases in your area. Inspect animals for ticks regularly, and keep the shed area clear of brush. Vaccinate your animals against diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Anthrax and Brucellosis.
You should always keep good records of finances, feeding, milk yield, breeding, disease control, calving, vaccinations, purchases, sales and assets in your operation. Financial records are the most important records, because these records determine whether your operation is giving you net income or loss.
You are a manager first
In order to succeed you will need to combine each aspect of management into a whole farm plan. However, you don’t need to do it all. Work with trusted consultants to help you build a plan, and stick with your strengths.
Consider creating a farm management team or profit team that engages your consultants to be active participants in the farm’s progress.
Remember, “The Footsteps of the Farmer are his/her Best Fertilizer.”
In other words, the closer you are to your plants and animals each day, the easier it is to observe and respond to their needs.