If you’re interested in starting a new dairy farm business, or you simply want to upgrade your existing farm, there are many details you need to pay attention to. A good dairy farm needs to be safe, labor efficient, economic, and it should use management practices that can help the animals produce quality milk. Therefore, some of the important areas you need to cover are milking facilities, infrastructure, labor productivity, water and energy efficiency, milk cooling, land drainage design, and biodiversity. With all that in mind, here’s how to build a modern dairy farm.
Cows are required to be milked twice a day, which means that they will have to walk to and from the milking parlor every day, regardless of the weather. So, the things you need to keep in mind are the distance they need to cover every day, the design of their paths, the access to the milking parlor (for both cows and larger vehicles), and biosecurity – unhealthy cows need to do everything separately. For example, milking parlor and other farmyard facilities should be near the center of the farm, and milk tankers – and other large vehicles – should have a separate access to the dairy unit.
In the past, most farmers had about ten cows per milking unit, but nowadays, there’s a much higher labor demand, which is why many farmers resort to automation. However, it’s always better to have adequate milking units than high levels of automation – your cows’ well-being should always come before profit.
When it comes to your facilities, they are quite an investment, so you should choose the right type wisely. This will influence the quality of your milk, the health of your cows, and your ability to compete with other farms. So, consider the size of your herd and the efficiency of different types of milk facilities in terms of labor demand, costs, and cow udder health.
A poorly drained land can reduce the number of grazing days and make access to the milking facilities much more difficult. Proper land drainage serves to dry the soil as quickly as possible by removing the excess water from the ground – and the best way to achieve this depends on the type of soil. This is why you need to test your soil before installing the drainage system. Also, in regard to your shed, a good dairy shed design means that it should be placed on a well-drained soil with good drainage system and away from any bodies of water.
The refrigeration of milk is essential so the milk stored doesn’t spoil too fast. And since it is the part of your dairy farm that requires the most electricity, using the most cost-efficient pre-cooling processes is very important. Also, you should cool the milk right after the milking in order to maintain its quality, and this is done in two steps – pre-cooling, and refrigeration. So, do your research in order to ensure that your milk stays good and that you don’t waste more energy than necessary.
Finally, biodiversity management is essential because it means better social and environmental outcomes. A well-designed dairy farm can achieve sustainable expansion without endangering the biodiversity of its environment. On the contrary, it can even improve the quality of water in the area and reduce pollution. Existing habitats should never be destroyed for the sake of profit, but rather protected, appropriately managed, and avoided when designing new agricultural units like a dairy farm. In other words, when designing your farm, don’t neglect the location and the environment.
A well-designed dairy farm can bring you not only profit but also the satisfaction of knowing that your animals are healthy, well taken care of, and not endangering the environment. So, think about the biodiversity, design your milking facilities and sheds wisely, cool your milk the right way, and your new business is guaranteed to succeed.