Dairy farming is an agricultural business where milk is produced and processed from domestic animals. It is a constantly evolving business even though it’s not popular.
Dairy farming can be operated using different kinds of mammals such as goats, sheep, camels, donkeys, buffalo, and cattle. These animals can be reared in small or large scale for the production of dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, fermented milk, butter, and yogurt.
Owing to the huge demand for these products, the business has continued to expand in Nigeria, thereby becoming a more profitable business venture no matter the season.
Are you interested in running a dairy farm, serving the needs of a wide range of consumers? Sit tight as we take you through the process.
Dairy Farming In Nigeria
Dairy farming business in Nigeria involves the production and processing of cattle milk. It is a capital intensive venture involving a long-term investment plan and proper management.
The day-to-day activities are mostly done by the immediate family members, with external services from veterinarians, extension agricultural educators e.t.c. This way, labor costs are reduced.
The overall success of a dairy farm business is dependent on the cow’s ability to live a healthy life, its ability to produce milk and have calves that can become the next generation on the farm. It requires maintaining the animals’ health and monitoring the reproduction cycle. Also, it involves milking properly, giving the right nutrition, and calf care.
How To Start A Dairy Farming Business
A dairy farm needs proper planning. It is more capital intensive than a meat farming business. Hence, there is a need to know what you are getting into and how you want to operate.
This guide will help you through the important steps you need and how to successfully operate.
Create A Business Plan
A business plan is critical to the success of any business. It is the documentation of business mission, aims, objectives e.t.c. It involves the short and long-term goals of the proposed business and how the vision can be attained.
A viable dairy farming business plan should cover the number of animals you intend to start with, a financial plan for the first few years of operation, location and set up, veterinary, labour e.t.c Also, it should be written in a way that the business can successfully operate even in the founder’s absence.
To write a business plan, first, conduct a feasibility study and research on the existing dairy farms in your locality. Your findings should be documented in your business plan. Also, a business plan gives you the opportunity to seek financial support from investors, banks, and other lending institutions.
Register Your Business
Business registration is one of the first steps to structuring your business. The Corporate Affairs Commission is responsible for registering businesses in Nigeria. You can either register as a business name or limited liability company depending on the ownership structure.
By registering your business, you can access some benefits that are tailored to entrepreneurs. You can register yourself by visiting the CAC website or by contacting ReDahlia, a brand preoccupied with offering business solutions to entrepreneurs.
Also, you have to be tax compliant and ensure you research for any local or federal permits or licenses you need to run your dairy farm.
To fully venture into dairy farming, comprehensive knowledge of the business is important. Starting from breeding, calving, weaning, milking, feeding, farm management, manure e.t.c they all require expertise. And you build expertise from previous experience, training, or employing the service of a dairy consultant.
In a case where you do not have prior experience, you can consult an expert or work for some time on a dairy farm. This will help you understand how to manage cows and how the business is operated for profitability.
Also, you need the services of veterinarians, nutritionists, agronomists, and other professionals who can provide different perspectives on the management of the dairy farm.
Farm Set Up
Once the full knowledge has been gathered on the business, next is to swing to action by building a housing system. Animal farms are more comfortable during the cold, and dry climate because this climate helps to get rid of their extra body heat.
Usually, animal farms can be constructed with bamboo, seasoned leaves, coconut front mats (cadjan), etc. Also, you can also create half walls, bamboos, and curtains where necessary. Then, fill the ground with beddings like saw-dust, straw, left-over roughage, or make the floor with rubble and cement.
Also, the floor should be sloppy so that waste can be easily washed into the gutter. All of these building materials are usually durable and cheap with low cost of repair and maintenance.
A well-designed housing system provides easy access for feeding, water, milking, cleaning operations, and protect the animal from harsh environmental conditions. It allows for a swift movement like standing, lying, etc.
If you have enough capital, you can also build separate housing systems for food and manure storage, milking parlor, spaces for calves, and well for watering.
Get The Best Breed
There are several animals used for dairy farming in different regions, with the most common being cattle, goat in small farms, and buffalo used in South Asia.
However, cattle are one of the most domesticated animals on a dairy farm. They are profitable and easier to maintain than other breeds as long as you have the most suitable breed. Some cattle breeds are highly productive in terms of meat, some for milk, and some for both purposes.
Types Of Breed
Basically, there are three types of cattle breed; Beef Cattle Breeds, Dairy Cattle Breeds, and Dual Purpose Breeds.
Beef Breed is cattle raised mainly for meat (beef) production. Examples are Angus, Afrikaner, Beefmaster, Brahman, Hllikar, Shorthorn, Devon, Adaptaur, White Fulani e.t.c
Milk Breed is cattle raised mainly for milk production. Examples are Holstein Freisian, Sahiwal, Agerolese, Evolene, Jersey, Red Sindhi, Brown Swiss, Ayrshire e.t.c
Dual-purpose Breed is cattle raised for milk and meat production. Examples are; Abondance, Tharparkar, Red pool, Kankrej, Milking shorthorn, e.t.c
Some breeds are also known for their hardwork and are called draft cattle breeds. Examples are Haryana, Krishna valley, Amritmahal, Malvi, Bhagnari, Kuri. While some are mostly used for small scale farming.
However, the major local dairy cattle breeds in Africa are Kuri, Afrikaner, Sokoto Gudali and Bunaji (White Fulani). The last two are the most breed in Nigeria.
Sokoto Gudali: These cattle are known for their black and white coat colors with a light underside and few others having multiple coatings. They have short horns with humps being thoracic in position.
Bunaji (White Fulani): They are owned and breed by farmers from the Fulani descent. Bunaji cattles have white coat colour, black eye, ears, muzzle, tail tip and hooves. They have well-developed dewlaps, humps, long and wide heads with straight or concave face. They are usually used for small holder dairy production and can be bread for meat and milk production.
To choose a breed, first ensure that the animal is healthy and well vaccinated against disease.
Create A Feeding Plan
Once the breed has been decided, the next step is to decide on the feed. The feed can be in the form of a plant (grazing), roughage, potato vines, Total Mixed Ration (TMR), etc. Just like humans, they need nutrients to grow, produce milk, and to reproduce. More so, their feeding and nutrient differ at different stages of growth and the purpose of their breed.
For instance, dairy cows are usually fed with lush, protein-rich alfalfa hay while beef cattle can take pasture grass mix of hay (legumes and grass). Also, they are fed according to their grade i.e lactating cows, dry cattle, heifer, and calves.
Some of the cow feeds can be leguminous forage plant, wheat straw, rice straw, maize stover, sweet potato vines e.t.c Also, you can add other nutritious products for proper growth and for good milk production.
Aside from feeding, dairy farm animals also need to have access to fresh, and clean water every day. This is because they drink about 3-30 gallons of water in a day during cold weather and this increases during the dry and hot weather.
Generally, dairy animals need a high nutrition requirement compared to animals raised for meat. The quantity and quality of feed and water you feed the animal has a lot of effect on the milk production.
Milk production is done in the milking parlour. It is usually produced by a lactating cow after the birth of a calf. The lactating cow is taken to the milking parlor at least twice a day to be milked. And, this is after a cow must have gone through the cycle of insemination, pregnancy, and parturition.
In the milking palour, milking machines are designed in a way that cows can be easily milked. First, the cow’s udder is cleaned and disinfected to prevent milk contamination and udder infections. Then, they are placed on the milking machine and the milking process is done.
There are several equipment used on a dairy farm. These equipment mostly reduces operational cost, time, and labour. For instance, milking can be done manually or mechanically. With the use of a machine, the process is faster with cheap labour. Manual milking is done with hands. It’s a labour-intensive process and the farmer must maintain good hygiene.
But, with the advent of technology, the milking process has become easier with a machine. Therefore, this list contains some of the equipment you need to procure to save the cost of labour and time.
Milking machine; This is the machine on which milking is exclusively performed. It is made of metal cups, each lined with rubber or silicone with the most common being the cluster milker. The cluster milker is attached to both a milk collection system and a pulsating vacuum system. The vacuum can be switch on and off to draw milk and allow the teat an opportunity to refill with milk.
With a milking machine, the milking operator attaches the cluster to each row, and the machine senses when the cow has been fully milked and drops off independently.
Pasteurizers: This is the machine used for heating milk to neutralize bacterial or other harmful agents.
Separator: It is used to separate cream and skimmed milk. It is made of stainless steel, aluminum, and plastic.
Homogenizers And Tanks: First, the homogenizers are used to separate immiscible liquids into an emulsion. The tanks are used as a storage facility.
Others Equipment Needed Are;
- Mud pump
- Book and pen for record keeping
- Moveable fence
- Feed grinder
- Water pipes
- Semen container
- Pressure washer
- Fodder chaff cutter, e.t.c
Control The Spread Of Disease
Due to the sensitivity of the dairy farm business, it is important to ensure that the dairy animals are not infected. One of the best ways to achieve this is to employ the service of a Veterinarian and follow their instructions.
This is because some of the diseases are highly dangerous and can affect the entire productivity of the farm. Some of the diseases they can suffer are; mastitis, endometritis, and digital dermatitis. Also, they are sometimes infected with metabolic diseases like milk fever and ketosis. They can also get injured on their feet if proper care is not taken.
To run a successful dairy farm, you must ensure that the animals are well taken care of. When an animal becomes sick, quarantine it in a separate section of the farm so, that it does not infect others.
In a diary farm, feaces, urine, and other waste generated can be used for manure. In a well-designed housing, you can easily remove the dung, urine, and other waste. Then, use the waste to make compost manure for crops or pass them through a biogas digester.
As long as you can have a good manure management plan, you can earn additional revenue from the waste you generate. Reach out to agricultural extension officers or large crop farmers to establish a business relationship for the manure.
More so, make sure the dungs/waste are removed every day and heaped away from the unit. So, flies are not deliberately invited.
For marketing, first, start with word of mouth advertising. Then, create a business card with a unique logo and fliers for distribution. Also, build a website and optimize for search engines. Create social media pages and display your farming activities periodically.
You can sell the milk directly to the consumer or through a more advanced production company. Also, you can create other diary products like cheese, butter, etc, and sell to consumers.
Most importantly, ensure to stay abreast of the market needs and make sure your dairy farm is neat as much as possible. This will help people trust that your milk is fit for human consumption. For instance, regularly sweep the shed, change the beddings, remove remnants of the feeds from the feeding trough, and keep the manure away from the herds.
Keep track of the animal cycle to know when to and when not to milk.
A diary farm can be operated on a small scale or large scale depending on capital available. Remember, you need background knowledge of how to operate a dairy farm. Also, be ready to invest a great deal of time and labour on the farm.
Once you practice all you have read here, you can build a profitable dairy farming business that will generate constant revenue for you and your family.
Are you interested in venturing into a dairy farming business or you are already a dairy farmer? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments. And if this article was helpful, please go ahead and click the share button to share with your friends.
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