Sat. Jun 25th, 2022
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Dairy farming is the quickest way to get involved in agriculture. To start a commercial diary farm the investor needs adequate land. A small scale farm can start with 4 cows and gradually increase herd. The investor can start with $3000 while a commercial venture requires a minimum of $300,000.

You need land, startup capital, labor and feed depends on size of the operation. To succeed there should be passion for the business. Other requirements include learning the trade, sourcing feed, marketing and administrative work.

Focus on high quality breeds for better premium prices and get affordable feed. The farmer should also consider a breeding program to increase herd and equity.

Types of Dairy Cattle

There is a full range of commercial milk producing cows. They are based on breed, country of origin, output per day and other classifications. We have the Jersey cattle, Irish Moiled, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorn and Normande.

Others include American Milking Devon, Montbéliarde, Dexter cattle, Dairy Short Horn. More are the Ayrshire cattle, Busa cattle, Guernsey, Illawarra. Farmers use the Red Poll, Norwegian Red, Holstein-Friesian cattle and Canadienne cattle.

Dairy Farm Breeds

         Jersey cattle

         Irish Moiled

         Brown Swiss

         Milking Shorthorn


         American Milking Devon


         Dexter cattle

         Dairy Short Horn

         Ayrshire cattle

         Busa cattle



         Red Poll

         Norwegian Red

         Holstein-Friesian cattle

         Canadienne cattle

Features of Dairy Cattle

Cattles have different features based on type of breed. Some are rare breeds, channel island cattle, domesticate or dual purpose. Others produce high amount of milk while some milk have high levels of butterfat.

Some are cross breed and dependent of hand feeding while others are perfectly adaptable to foraging. Colors differ from black/white spotted, brown, light yellow, reddish brown.

Cattle Features

         produce high amount of milk

         have high levels of butterfat

         cross breed

         hand feeding

         good foragers

         black/white spotted


         light yellow

         reddish brown

         large eyes

         large ears

How to Raise Dairy Cattle

Things to Consider

Things to consider before starting the business are type of cattle or products. Research the breed adaptable to your geographical location and food source.

You need land, business plan, number of starter stock, learn farming practices like weaning, milking, calving, waste management. You need funding for equipment, facility, labor, cropping. Make sure you research local markets, get license or permit.

         Research the breed

         Find food source


         business plan

         estimate number of starter stock

         learn farming practices

         get funding

         buy equipment

         provide a facility

         hire labor

         provide cropping

         research local markets

         get license or permit

Understand the Basics

You need to understand the basics of running a dairy farm.  Use tags to mark each animal, purchase healthy breed, provide transportation and isolate new stock. Make sure used equipment are disinfected, hire a vet and provide good nutrition.

Avoid dangerous contaminants like pesticides or toxins that can affect cattle health or milk quality. Milk production requires regular milking of thrice daily mechanized or manual. To breed calves understand the cattle’s cycle and replace low producers.

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Business Plan

Write a dairy farm business plan and carry out a feasibility study. The plan should determine the scope of the enterprise, cost of production. Other parameters are cropping, feeding program, waste management and equity.

Learn the Trade

To succeed you need to learn the trade.  The best way is to leverage on expert advice and plan. Use experienced dairy farmers, government department advisory, bankers and veterinarians.

You can visit dairy farms for firsthand knowledge of their operation. Other ways to learn are through workplace experience, apprentice programs, trade workshops, and vocational training institutions. There are also online resources, courses, books and tutorials.

How to Learn Dairy Farming

         leverage on expert advice

         plan ahead

         use experienced dairy farmers

         government department advisory



         workplace experience

         apprentice programs

         trade workshops

         vocational training institutions

         online resources





The business is capital intensive and requires adequate funding. The size of the farm depends on the farmer’s vision and operation. The business template could include selling crops, breeding calves, milk or bottling the product.

Dairy cows are expensive and you need equipment, land, labor and regular supply of feed. A large operation of 50 to 100 cattle can cost $500,000 to $1 million dollars. Approach an agriculture financing bank for long term, low interest loans. You need 1/3 of requested amount in your bank account, business plan, collateral.

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Farm Management

A profitable farm requires good management of the herd, feeding, hygiene and health issues. Purchase high quality cattle adapted to your geographical location. Top breeds are cross or hybrids specialized in milk production. Buy breeds like Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein, Ayrshire and Brown Swiss.

Other considerations are calving easy, feed conversion ratio and genetic pointers. Depending on the size you can work full or part time. Hire causal labor, qualified veterinarian, farm hands. The manure is ideal as fertilizer for crop production.

Machinery and Equipment for Dairy Farm

The type of machinery depends on the size of the operation. A small farm could start with 10 to 15 dairy cows while larger farms having 50 or more. The mechanization could be manual, semi-automated or automated.

Temperature control is essential for better yields and you need a utility vehicle for supplies. A farmer should consider cultivating food crops for the animal to reduce costs of feed.

Although there are common equipment to run a small farm you need a loader tractor, feed grinder and milking cans. Other equipment are bore well with motor, tagging equipment, chains. More are ropes, water pipes, semen container, accessories, mist cooling system. Buy a fodder chaff cutter, trolley, and tractor.

Large Dairy Farm

In addition larger operations would require cattle fodder truck, tractor implements, fodder compacting press. More machinery include generator, electric fencing, tanks, moveable fence, fodder harvester.

Equip the farm with reapers, fodder block machine, administrative office equipment. Add milking equipment, mud pump, baler, pressure washer, fodder mill, feed basket.

Farm Equipment

1.       fodder truck

2.       tractor implements

3.       fodder compacting press

4.       generator

5.       electric fencing

6.       tanks

7.       moveable fence

8.       fodder harvester

9.       reapers

10.     fodder block machine

11.     administrative office equipment

12.     milking equipment

13.     mud pump

14.     baler

15.     pressure washer

16.     fodder mill

17.     feed basket

18.     loader tractor

19.     feed grinder

20.     milk cans

21.     bore well with motor

22.     tagging equipment

23.     chains

24.     ropes

25.     water pipes

26.     semen container

27.     accessories

28.     mist cooling system

29.     fodder chaff cutter

30.     trolley

31.     tractor


The milking facility should conform to state laws and provisions. There are also waste management protocols, facility inspection and permits. Incorporate the business as a limited liability company, insurance and tax identification number.

Feeding the Cattle

The most practical, economic and cost effective method is to grow your own feed. 1/3rd of farm operation is providing nutritious feed for your herd. The breed, quality of feed, healthcare equates to quality milk, easy calve production.

Feed the feed products or allow foraging to reduce costs. Cows eat both wet and dry feed like hay, greens. They also require supplements including vaccination from common diseases. The farmer should consult a nutritionist, develop feeding program and rations.


Apart from selling the milk there are lots of money making opportunities. The farmer can sell calves, old cattle and manure. Other sources are selling excess or leftover feed to livestock farmers. Sell to beverage and food process companies. The farmer could bottle the milk or can.

By Femi

webmaster with passion for good content

6 thoughts on “How to Start a Commercial Dairy Farm”
    1. look into CBN agricultural loan, Bank of Agriculture, agricultural cooperative societies such as All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN); Youth Empowerment in the Agricultural Program (YEAP); FADAMA.

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