How do I Become a Dairy Farmer?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

There is no particular educational requirement to fulfill in order to become a dairy farmer. Some people may begin this business after earning a high school diploma or even without graduating at all. Others may take courses in biology and chemistry while some enroll in livestock-related courses or opt for business training. For many, the most important preparation for becoming a dairy farmer is gaining work experience on a dairy farm.

Dairy products and eggs.
Dairy products and eggs.

A person who wants to become a dairy farmer should spend at least some time working on a dairy farm before striking out on his own. This gives him the opportunity to learn whether or not he likes dairy farming enough to make it a full-time career. It also provides hands-on experience that gives an aspiring farmer a different perspective from that obtained in a classroom. Often, dairy farmers grow up on farms and are used to this type of work. For those who are not born into farm life, this type of experience can be critical.

An Ayrshire cow, a type of dairy cow.
An Ayrshire cow, a type of dairy cow.

Education, though not required, can help a prospective dairy farmer to learn about running a farm, caring for livestock, and achieving production goals. A person may begin his education to become a dairy farmer in high school, taking biology and chemistry courses that can help him gain an understanding of animal anatomy, cattle health, and milk production. Some people go on to pursue college degrees in animal science. Others may take classes in livestock production or business management to help them develop the skills needed to run their own dairy farming businesses. There are even some dairy farming courses in which a person may enroll.

Milk from a dairy farm.
Milk from a dairy farm.

Unless a person inherits a dairy farm, he’ll typically need a good deal of money to get started in this business. He’ll need land, cows, equipment, shelter and a full range of start-up supplies to become a dairy farmer. Some people may obtain loans to get started. Others may attempt to minimize costs by renting a dairy farm and starting out with a minimal purchase of cows. For example, a person may begin with a purchase of about 50 cows.

A dairy farmer must ensure that all of the milking and feeding machinery on a dairy farm is working properly.
A dairy farmer must ensure that all of the milking and feeding machinery on a dairy farm is working properly.

Dairy farming equipment can be a hefty expense, especially when added to the cost of buying or renting land and purchasing cows. To keep costs low, a person who wants to become a dairy farmer may purchase used equipment instead of buying it brand new. He may also use contacts to keep costs low, sharing equipment and supplies with other farmers or even arranging to buy in bulk with others on a budget. He may even ask his relatives to work on the farm, keeping payroll costs low, especially when he is just getting started.

A dairy farmer must keep animal stalls clean.
A dairy farmer must keep animal stalls clean.
It is important that dairy farmers be well-versed in business management, because they will need to track financial and production trends.
It is important that dairy farmers be well-versed in business management, because they will need to track financial and production trends.
Most dairy farmers grow up on a farm and are accustomed to the lifestyle.
Most dairy farmers grow up on a farm and are accustomed to the lifestyle.
Purchasing used equipment, such as a machine milker, can help one become a dairy farmer.
Purchasing used equipment, such as a machine milker, can help one become a dairy farmer.
Milk by-products such as butter and cheese are also produced at dairy processing facilities.
Milk by-products such as butter and cheese are also produced at dairy processing facilities.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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