A dairy farmer is the owner or manager of a farm where cows are raised for the production of milk and other dairy products. These farmers are involved in a wide range of activities for the purpose of increasing milk production. Milk which is produced on these farms is sold commercially to regional dairy companies for pasteurization and processing.
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As a dairy farmer, your job is much more complex than simply milking cows. You are in charge of the farm's overall operation. This involves a multitude of jobs and tasks that have to be performed. First, you have to take care of the animals. The cows are the most important component of the dairy farm. Without them, a farmer can't produce any profit. As such, farmers devote special attention to their health and well-being. This includes milking them at a specific time each morning and evening, as well as taking care of any health issues that may arise. While a farmer will generally rely on a veterinarian to administer vaccinations, minor health issues are often resolved without professional help. Many dairy farmers also choose to grow their own hay, which serves as the main food source for the cattle. By growing all the food that a herd will consume, farms become increasingly self sufficient. As a result, both production and profit increases.
Milking is the single most important function on the dairy farm. Cows have to be properly milked, which isn't an easy task. The process begins with inspecting and washing the cow udders, which is done to screen for mastitis and other health problems. Special care is taken to remove any debris from the udder. The next step is attaching the milking equipment. This has to be done very carefully to protect against damaging the cow's utter. Typically, a milking cycle will last for five to ten minutes for each cow. Cows are generally milked two to three times per day, depending on the average production levels.
Maintenance is also a major concern for farmers. The majority of dairy farms are subject to government regulations and have to maintain a certain level of cleanliness to ensure a smooth operation. This work typically involves keeping farm buildings clean and free from clutter, as well as properly maintaining the milking equipment.
To be a dairy farmer, you must be willing to work long hours outside. The work day typically begins before the sun rises and ends in the late evening. The work is labor intensive and can be very difficult to do during the extreme winter months. Farmers have to be able to multi task as well as find quick solutions to problems. Issues that need frequent attention range from cattle health problems to machinery breakdowns.
Given the physical nature of this job, you generally have to be healthy to complete the required daily chores. Having a business background and a knowledge of business operations can also help. Since your ultimate goal is to make a profit, knowing how to properly account for expenses and revenues can be an advantage.
There is no formal education required to become a dairy farmer. Most farms are family businesses that are passed down from one generation to the next. Nonetheless, universities and colleges offer dairy science and agriculture programs for students. These programs provide training on the various aspects of the dairy business.
Since much of their work involves physical labor, dairy farmers typically enjoy the benefits of being active. Many farmers also enjoy their work environment because they're able to stay outside yet work close to their family. Since co-workers are often members of your immediate family, you can work while maintaining a strong bond to those closest to you.
While farm life has its advantages, farms can be dangerous places to work. Accidental farm deaths and injuries kill thousands of people each year. As a farmer, you have to work with and around heavy machinery. You also have to work in close proximity to the cows you're milking. Injuries caused by animals is quite common. While these injuries are often minor, they can occasionally be serious and even fatal.
Most of a farmer's time is spent outside and in barns. As such, you're constantly exposed to the elements. Years of exposure to the sun and the cold can often have negative health consequences.
Salaries for dairy farmers vary greatly depending on the size of their business operation. Farms which are run primarily as a family enterprise will typically produce less profit than the ones which operate solely as a commercial enterprise. The median income after expenses ranges from the mid twenties up to sixty thousand dollars per year.