How to Start and Manage a Micro Dairy, Step 5: 15 Universal Truths for Micro Dairy Owners

| 4/3/2013 2:38:26 PM

Tags: micro dairy, Steve Judge, dairy cows,

cowThe dairy industry is full of strong personalities. In fact, in the almost 50 years that I have worked in the industry, I have come across some pretty stubborn beings (cows and dairy farmers alike) who bristle at being told what to do. This has, at times, made my job as a dairy-farming consultant difficult, especially given my focus on micro- and small-herd dairies. My message of farming on a small scale is often lost on the more traditional, larger-scale dairy farmers who are focused on maintaining or growing their herd.

Add to this the fact that, like any other business, there are numerous ways to manage and solve the problems on a dairy farm. As the old saying goes, “There are 1,000 ways to run a dairy farm. It doesn't matter how you do it as long as you do it right." Of course, what is right is subjective. I can recommend a specific dairy-management procedure to a person, and that person can talk to the dairy farmer down the road who will say, "Steve Judge is out of his mind. This is how I would do it."

Finally, there is the dairy farmer himself, who was born with a fierce skepticism of outside experts. There is a general feeling that if you haven't milked dairy animals for a living, you are not an expert about anything on a dairy farm. Generally I agree.

It’s a good thing I’ve got solid ground on which to stand. I have been milking dairy animals for almost 50 years and, in that time, have also owned, leased and managed six different dairy farms. Still, I couch every piece of advice that I give with a qualifier: "If it were my farm I'd..." or "If it were my cow I'd...” That said there are what I consider to be some universal truths about micro-and small-herd dairy farming. Here are my 15 truths in no particular order:

Keep your dairy animals clean, dry and comfortable.

Feed and care for your dairy animals before you feed and care for yourself.

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