Research on available cattle breeds
Finding the right dairy breeds can be challenging. You must run market and competitor research to understand what breeds are already in the area and how profitable they are by farm size. You can narrow your options and make the best decision when selecting the breeds for your dairy farm by talking to a veterinarian and other experts in your area.
- Always buy disease-free animals, and keep them isolated from other animals during transportation to your farm. Quarantining new arrivals (and animals that fall sick) is recommended, especially if they do not have trustworthy, recent health records. Your local government or veterinary officer can give you specific advice about diseases in your area. Remember that there is no farmer who will sell his/her good cow/heifer. Many farmers sell animals that have problems.
- Buy animals with proper records.
Consult the experts
Other dairy farmers are great resources. Attend field days and open days on dairy farms in your area and other parts of the country. When visiting other farms find out what has worked well on those farms and what has not worked, but keep in mind that just because something worked well on one farm does not mean it will work for you on your farm. In addition to farmers, talk to veterinarians, nutritionists, agronomists, bankers, extension educators, and others that can provide different perspectives on management of your dairy.
Create a feeding programme
Feeding accounts for over 60% of the total cost of production in a profitable dairy cattle enterprise. You must have to ensure adequate (quality and quantity) feeding for keeping your animals healthy and productive. Producing your own feeds (fresh, conserved and compounded) is a very good option and reduces the cost of feeding an animal. So, determine the amount of pasture that will be required for the animal. Work with a nutritionist to develop balanced rations for your lactating cows, dry cows and heifers if these animals are to be raised on the farm. Raising all your own feed takes land and time, not to mention equipment for planting and harvesting the crops. Hiring operators to plant and harvest crops, or making arrangements with neighbours to share equipment and labour can reduce your capital investment as you get started with your dairy business and are building capital. Some of the major feed resources in the animal’s diet are:
- Mineral licks and/or mineral supplements.
- Dairy concentrates for optimum milk production.
- Make use of plenty of agricultural, farm (cereal stovers, sweet potato vines and straws) and agro-industrial by-products (molasses, maize bran, bagasse, and brewery spent grain).
- Dairy animals have high nutrition requirements compared to animals raised for meat. Improper nutrition can lead to lower milk production or lower quality milk.
- Mouldy feed or feed stored in the same area as pesticides and other contaminants can transfer dangerous toxins to the milk.