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HERD ABOUT Credentials?

Establish dairy herd credentials for improved profits.
BRANDT BOLDING/SHUTTERSTOCK

It can be difficult for hobby farmers to make small dairy herds profitable because they generally don’t have the equipment availability and infrastructure of a large dairy operation. However, there are methods that small diary farms can use to increase profits from their herds — cattle and goat. These include starting with high-quality registered stock and participating in activities designed to improve the dairy breeds.

The activities, called performance programs, include competitive showing, linear evaluation and milk production testing. These programs allow farmers to establish herd credentials highlighting the positive traits of their animals. Demand for high quality stock is always greater than that for lower quality stock, so farmers with herds that can demonstrate superior traits can charge higher prices and expect increased sales of their cattle or goats.

In addition, farmers can use performance programs to help breed livestock for improved productivity and longevity thereby also increasing profits. Note that bulls, bucks and young stock can also participate in performance programs, but the examples used in this article focus on cows and does; their information is more complex because they have udders.

REGISTERED STOCK

An important decision when managing a dairy herd is whether to purchase registered purebred or unregistered stock. If you’re interested in only a couple of goats or cows for pets or family milk, then registration might not make a difference. But if you intend to make a profit from your herd, registration is important. Unregistered animals are much less expensive, but registered animals have more potential for producing income.

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