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Good Practices for Managing a Dairy Farm

When managing a dairy farm, one needs to constantly consider what would be the best practices that will yield maximum profit both in the short and the long run. Profitability is a result of higher income and lower costs, but also of good dairy farm management.

DAIRY FARM GRAZING SYSTEMS

In dairy farms one of the major expenses is the cow feed. There are three typical grazing practices:

  1. Open range: Where the cows graze in open fields throughout the day, receiving water and minerals in the field.
  2. Semi zero-grazing: Where the cows are enclosed some of the time but are released to graze for a few hours each day.
  3. Zero-grazing: Where the cows are housed in barns and the farmer brings the feed and water to the cows.

Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. A dairy farmer will naturally adopt the grazing system that will increase his profit margin per cow. But is it really that simple?

In general open range helps reduce input costs, increasing profit per cow. On the other hand open range grazing provides less control over the nutrient intake resulting in lower milk yield per cow, when compared with zero grazing.

Most dairy farms in the western world have remained profitable by focusing on attaining higher milk production per cow, plus a higher volume of milk, by increasing their herd size.

HOUSING

When considering housing for cows, there are a few important factors to consider because these factors have a direct influence on the health of the cows, and therefore on milk productivity. A successful housing system takes into account the cows’ behavior when feeding, drinking, lying, raising and walking.

  • Convenience of feeding: cows should have plenty of room and easy access to feed.
  • Cleanliness of the sleeping area: It should be easy for the farmer to clean the shed without stressing the cows.
  • Convenience of moving and restraining animals: Cows often need to be managed with health and other procedures requiring restraint, such as: weighing, vaccinating, deworming, dehorning, artificial insemination etc. The housing facility should make it easy to handle the cows but also consider the cow’s requirements.

 

COW REARING

The optimum practice in a well-managed dairy farm should result in the same number of calves born every year as the number of cows in the herd. Raising dairy cows should begin by choosing a bull likely to breed cows with a high genetic potential for milk. A good practice is to sell the males calves at an early age and keep the females as replacement milking cows or for sale. Raising a high number of replacement cows allows a dairy farmer to:

  1. Use strict selection criteria to choose the best replacement cows from a wide selection.
  2. Gradually expand the dairy herd without having to buy milking cows.
  3. Sell excess milking cows when extra income is needed.

CALF REARING

Proper calf rearing practices is important in order to have a good foundation for the future dairy herd. A well-managed feeding program and good housing will result in lower death rate of the calves and future replacement cows that can start production early and improve the genetic merit of the herd.

From Concept Planning to Turn-Key Design

Dairy Farming Solutions, from ABT Planners, offers over 30 years of international dairy farm implementation experience.  If you are renovating an existing dairy farm or building from scratch, we can assist you with one or all stages, from concept to a full Turnkey solution. Our process aims to minimize errors in the short and long term – developing an enduring operation that will take into account key factors from the start.  With our global experience with dairy farming, our team can often forecast revisions to environmental or operational concerns, and address these planning stages in dairy farm.

For more information, please click here to contact Alefbet solutions in dairy farming

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