Dairy Farming in South Africa

© Chris Daly
Starting a new dairy farm requires more than cows and pastures. You will need a sound knowledge of dairy cow physiology, feeding, housing as well as the milking cycle and milk hygiene.

The dairy cow industry in South Africa is one of the largest agricultural industries in the country, employing more than 40 000 people.

Starting a dairy farm is more than just owning a few dairy cows and milking them two times daily. It requires knowledge of dairy cow diseases, correct housing and feeding of dairy cows, understanding milking equipment and assuring absolute cleanliness and hygiene during milking and the processing of milk.

While the Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) provides training and supports sustainable dairy farming in South Africa, SouthAfrica.co.za aims to provide easy-to-read content in all 11 languages that could help new farmers understand basic principles about dairy farming in South Africa.

© Marinda Louw

Basic Hygiene in Dairy Farming

A milk storage room should be clean at all times and must be sited in a clean area, away from obvious sources of contamination and separate from any wash-up areas....more

Basic Principles of Dairy Farming

The ideal dairy herd has dry cows as well as heifers of different ages to ensure continued production and herd growth....more

Buying Dairy Cows

Lactating cows should be bought at first as there is an immediate milk supply and therefor an immediate cash flow....more

Feeding Facilities Required for Dairy Cows

While looking to buy dairy cows when starting a dairy farm, some basic facilities must be put in place before bringing cows to the new farm....more

Feeding of Dairy Cows

The amount of milk a dairy cow will produce every day depends on her genetic merit and the feeding programme....more

Glossary of Dairy Terms

Persistence of milk production – the downward trend in milk production after peak yield...more

How to Choose a Dairy Cow

Identity is determined by the colour pattern (for Holsteins) and ear tattoos (for Jerseys)....more

How to Get a Cow Pregnant

To maintain a high standard of reproduction management, the next expected calving down date should be less than 13 months from the present calving date....more

How to Start Dairy Farming

Is the climate warm or cold? Do you have good quality feed available, do you have housing for your cows and is there a lot of cattle diseases in the area....more

Metabolic Diseases in Dairy Cows

Milk fever usually occurs at calving or 3 to 4 days after calving in older, high producing cows. It is also more common in Jerseys than other breeds....more

Milking of Dairy Cows

The milk let-down process starts with cows being brought to the milking parlour with the general pre-milking sounds such as cans being moved around....more

Rearing Calves and Heifers

Within six hours after birth, help the calf to suckle from the mother or milk the cow by hand and feed colostrum to the calf using an artificial teat....more

Selecting the Best Bulls for Dairy Farming

Milk production starts after calving. Getting cows pregnant is therefore one of the most important management actions on a dairy farm....more

The Differences Between Dairy Cows

The main four dairy breeds - Holsteins, Jerseys, Ayrshires and Guernseys, vary in terms of live weight, milk yield and milk composition, but the variations within a specific breed are similarly large....more