How Do You Manage a Dairy Farm?

Updated: Jun 25




Seems like a simple enough question, right? In your head you are probably picturing a farmer, getting up in the morning and throwing on a pair of overalls and heading to the barn to start milking the cows. To you, it may seem like an easy task - set up a stool, throw a bucket underneath some udders, and start milking.


With the advances in technology today, there are many other skills that dairy farmers are tasked with learning - some of which may require taking specialized courses. Let’s take a look at what it means to manage a dairy farm today.


Dairy Farm Management Certification

If you are looking for courses on dairy farm management and certification, there are a lot of options online. Let’s take a look at what Penn State offers in terms of course requirements and the syllabus.


To get the Dairy Farm Management Certificate, a total of 76 hours of coursework spanning an 8-week program is required. During this program, those seeking the certificate will complete the following courses:


Week 1: Orientation to Dairy Genetics - 8 hours

Week 2: Forage Production and Pasture Management - 8 hours

Week 3: Feeds, Hay and Silage Making, and Feed Processing - 8 hours

Week 4: Nutrition Basics, Requirements, and Feeding of Lactating Cows - 8 hours

Week 5: Calf and Heifer Nutrition and Feeding of Dry Cows - 10 hours

Week 6: Dairy Reproduction - 8 hours

Week 7: Animal Health and Milk Quality - 16 hours

Week 8: Farm Economics and Environment - 10 hours


While state laws vary, many are requiring certification like the one demonstrated above to earn a Grade A rank for their dairy farm. Although not required to own and operate a dairy farm, the certification implies high standards are met and many distributors look at these items before collaborating with a dairy farm.


Dairy Farm Management Around the World

It isn’t just the United States implementing high standards for dairy farming, in India the courses required for dairy farm management are only one step on a massive career path - up to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Dairy Management.


These courses include:


  • Milking Management

  • Feeding Management

  • Calf Management

  • Cooling Management

  • Cleaning Management

  • Milk filtration Management

  • Hoof management

  • Manure handling

  • Cow Longevity

  • Cow comfort Management

  • Animal signs Management

  • Biosecurity

  • Dairy farm planning Management

  • Dairy herd Management

  • Dairy buffalo Production Management

Are Courses Required For Dairy Farming?

In a nutshell, no, there is no steadfast rule that says to be a dairy farmer you need to have these completed courses and certifications. In the early 1900s, most dairy farming was passed down from generation to generation - many of which still exist today. The certification and course requirements are more implemented for mass production and supplying the major distributors. That doesn’t mean that if your local dairy farm doesn’t have certification that it isn’t good - in fact, many of these small farms are better because they use proven methods passed down from generations before them. So, the moral of the story? Don’t judge a dairy farmer by a management certificate. These courses are great to have, especially with new technology, but it isn’t required to be great at what they do.


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