As the fifth-largest agriculture industry in South Africa, milk production provides a regular income for thousands of small and large producers. Commercial dairy farming is a demanding and complex operation. To succeed at it, you need to understand dairy cattle. Highly sophisticated equipment is used for milking, and it is essential to employ skilled well-trained workers and also adhere to strict quality control regulations.
Buying a Dairy Farm
Buying a dairy farm is not a decision you should make without talking to experts and considering various factors, as it involves investing a huge amount of money. Not only do you need enough money to buy the farm, you will need money to maintain farming activities and develop the farm in future. The neighbors, local vet, and agriculture expert at your bank can all provide valuable information and advice.
You should find out more about the following important factors:-
- Availability of dependable electricity;
- Existing milk facilities and equipment;
- Distance of the farm to the nearest town;
- Existing milk route of milk buying companies;
- Condition of the roads to the farm;
- Existing contract with a company that buys milk;
- Availability of sufficient water;
- Existing pastures and types of soil.
Getting the basics right:-
According to Milk SA preparing adequate infrastructure and establishing a market for your products are crucial for success:
1. Make sure that there is a co-op, shop, school, processor, or even a clinic that will buy your milk;
2. Find out the type of packaging your customer prefers. Some clients for example, want plastic bottles, while others may bring their own containers;
3. Refrigeration is crucial. Your customer will not want warm milk that will sour quickly;
4. If a buyer or processor collects milk from your farm ensure that the access roads are good and your reception area is up to standard;
5. A collection center will only buy milk that has been tested.
Understand the Dairy Market
Before you can sell your milk, it is necessary that you understand some basic principles. Once you understand these principles, you will be able to expand your milk sales with confidence. The production of milk follows a process that basically consists of four steps:-
1. Rearing Animals – feeding, breeding and caring for them.
2. Collecting, Chilling and Bulking – transporting your milk to the collection center or to your customers or the collection of milk on your farm.
3. Producing – milking your cows.
4. Marketing – the sales of your milk, directly to the public or to a buyer or co- operative.
Once you start selling your milk to a collection center, you will have to agree to the testing of your milk. A center will not buy milk if they are not sure that the milk is hygienic. If you are selling to a shop or to the community, it is your duty to supply safe, clean, fresh and hygienic milk.