How to Start & Manage a Micro Dairy: Step 1

| 9/5/2012 1:16:29 PM

The Philosophy of a Micro Dairy

I am a Micro Dairy owner now, and I have been a large dairy farm owner in the past. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that there is no resemblance between the two. Running a Micro Dairy with four cows allows me to have a normal life, make a decent living and have time in the day to do all the things I want to do. My goal, through this blog and my company, Bob-White Systems, is to help as many people as possible successfully realize their own dreams of starting and managing a Micro Dairy.

To paraphrase Bob Marley, you can do it if you really want it. Whether your goal is to have a diversified farm that offers a range of products for sale to your local customers, or you want to be totally self-reliant and feed your own family, or even if you have a career or day job but want farm fresh milk for yourself and to make a few extra bucks, a Micro Dairy or small-scale dairy is a real-life-sized endeavor. You don't need to smell like manure and be chained to your cows and endless chores. With a Micro Dairy you can have a healthy rural lifestyle, treat your cows humanely and make a great delicious product that here in Vermont sells for between $6 - $10 a gallon right from the farm. Or use it to make home or farmstead cheese, yogurt, butter or other products and sell it for even more.

Bob White Systems Micro Dairy Milking Parlor 

To my thinking, Micro Dairies are part of the future of agriculture and not the past. It’s something we strive to create at Bob-White Systems, and I get to interact with people on a daily basis who are involved in all sorts of farming. Along with my own experience, that gives me great insight into the right and wrong ways to have a Micro Dairy. Over the next year or so, I will be sharing those with you – and hopefully you will be sharing your experiences with me so I can pass them along here. And send your questions – if you have a question, chances are a bunch of other people have the same one.

Whatever your current level of farming experience, I really want to stress that Micro Dairies are extremely simple operations – or should be. Any region where you can grow grass, you can produce farm-fresh milk. Very little equipment is required beyond the milking and processing equipment:

  • A good water supply - dairy cows require nearly 50-gallons of clean water per day.
  • A small or compact tractor with a loader is useful for handling manure, bedding and other materials and good fences are required for the pastures.
  • Miscellaneous grooming and handling equipment will be needed for the cows including halters, leads and brushes.

And, of course, a barn. Again, think small: up to six cows can be kept and milked in a compact, comfortable barn not much bigger than an ordinary two-car garage. Half of the barn houses the cows and the other half contains the milk handling and storage systems (see our own barn in the photo).

Bob White Systems Micro Dairy Barn in Vermont 

Don’t worry; I’ll be covering these and many more topics in great detail. If you’ve read this far, then you are most likely very seriously considering a Micro Dairy. That’s great – the more, the better. Especially now, as consumer concerns about the health and safety of our food are growing as rapidly as they are about the health of our environment, the humane treatment of farm animals and the loss of our rural working landscapes. There’s no mystery why organic food production and sales have grown significantly during the past three decades and the number of farmer’s markets has more than doubled since 1994. 

3/26/2018 5:48:01 PM

I am in Middle Tennessee and would like to start a micro dairy with my goats. I have no clue how to get started.

5/9/2016 6:47:19 PM

Hello, I am so happy to have found your blog. I am interested in starting a micro dairy. I have 50 acres in east central Texas and would like to buy some jersey cows or brown swiss. I am very new at this and just starting. I have taken some classes in cheese making. And after reading your blog I am very excited to start. Thank you for this article. Kathleen

11/29/2013 5:38:23 AM

am a young man from kenya by name Joseph, although am a graduate i don't have a job and i want to venture in dairy farming here in limuru-Kenya. i have great passion of farming and i want to start up a small dairy farming farm in my fathers small farm, which cloud help me get out of the vicious cycle of poverty, asking if u offer me any assistance to kick off the project. i want to be inspired and inspire the life of those young men who are educated yet jobless that we can achieve it through farming.

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