Dairy Farming in South Africa: Breeds, How to Start

Dairy Farming in South Africa: Breeds, How to Start

The dairy {industry} in South Africa is likely one of the largest agro-industries in the nation, using greater than 40,000 individuals. The dairy farm enterprise includes proudly owning a couple of dairy cows and milking them twice a day. This requires information of dairy illnesses, understanding of milking gear, correct housing and feeding of dairy cows, and assurance of full hygiene and hygiene throughout milking and milk processing. First, let’s take a look at extra details about Dairy farming in South Africa.

Dairy Farming in South Africa
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The dairy {industry} in South Africa can play a necessary position in assembly a rising inhabitants’s meals safety and dietary wants. Currently, there are 1.2 million dairy cows and about 1,200 dairy farms in South Africa. Milk manufacturing is the fifth largest agro-industry in South Africa. Milk offers common revenue to many small and huge producers and is produced day-after-day. Milk manufacturing could be very labor-intensive and employs many individuals. 

Things you want to find out about dairy farming in South Africa

For dairy farming, selecting the best breed is crucial to guarantee wholesome animals, good yields, and powerful offspring for lengthy life. The dairy {industry} in South Africa’s fifth-largest agro-industry offers sustainable livelihoods to 1000’s of huge and small producers throughout the nation. 

In dairy farming, large-scale industrial producers promote milk to dairy processors. Small and medium-sized producers promote milk straight to shoppers and in addition processors. Dairy processors produce dairy merchandise for distribution, export, and additional processing to retailers. The dairy {industry} faces the next dangers in accordance to Milk SA;

  • Uncertain weather conditions have an effect on herds and enough meals manufacturing; 
  • Uncertain product pricing; 
  • The risk of a sudden decline in the product market; 
  • Therefore, farmers can scale back the chance by means of good administration and correct planning.

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Feeding Management
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How to select a breed 

For industrial dairy manufacturing, the breed choice depends upon private preferences, environmental components reminiscent of climate situations, accessible feeds, and the ultimate milk product, for instance, in order for you to promote milk or make cheese. For occasion, cheese processors want milk to be stable (fats and protein) milk produced by Jersey cows. On the opposite hand, Holstein cow’s milk is extra appropriate for liquid merchandise reminiscent of milk or yogurt. All breeds of cattle, and a few breeds of goats, are able to offering further milk for the wants of their younger.

If one retains one or two cows for purely home functions, it’s pointless to hold a dairy cow, as beef may also be given milk. Though, for industrial milk manufacturing, completely larger manufacturing is important if a dairy enterprise maintains its viability. In the world’s largest dairy international locations, manufacturing tended to be larger early. However, some issues have arisen, main to a worldwide pattern in the direction of excessive yields with good butterfat and protein synthesis, which is crucial for pricing excessive substances for protein throughout a protracted life. 

Dairy breeds in South Africa

In South Africa, six cattle breeds are acknowledged as “dairy breeds.” Holstein Friesland, Jersey, Guernsey, Ayrshire, Switzerland (brown- and dairy), and dairy shorthorn. Other dairy breeds like Red Poll, Simmentaler, Dexter, and South Devon, are sometimes seen in the milking parlor. Dairy breed choice generally is a tough resolution. Though, if which breed fits your wants, it is possible for you to to select and purchase the precise breed.

Buying a Dairy farm 

Buying a dairy farm will not be a choice it’s best to make with out consulting many consultants and contemplating many components, because it includes a substantial funding. You ought to be taught extra in regards to the following key parts;

  • Reliable energy availability. 
  • Existing dairy amenities and gear. 
  • Distance from the closest city to the farm. 
  • Current milk route of milk shopping for corporations. 
  • Condition of roads main to the farm. 
  • The present settlement with the milk buying firm. 
  • Sufficient water availability.
  • Possibility to create a number of roughage. 
  • Existing pastures and soil sorts. 

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Feeding Cows
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Which dairy cattle breed to select? 

Most cows may be milked for home use, however 4 cattle breeds are specialist dairy cows for industrial dairy farming in South Africa. These are;


This breed is the most typical of the dairy breeds, and in addition to its black and white shade markings, it produces extra milk than different dairy breeds. Holstein is probably the most well-known dairy breed in the world and South Africa. It is white and black and is a big animal (massive framed). These animals are unusually excessive milk producers and may be marketed as meat. Holstein typically has issue calving and isn’t appropriate for long-distance strolling. Its milk is low in butter. The Holsteins aren’t as warmth resistant as another dairy breeds. 


Jersey can vary in shade from mild to darkish brown and is the smallest of the dairy breeds. The most warmth tolerant dairy breeds produce milk with excessive butter content material (finest for ice cream). These are smaller than different dairy breeds and are in style in South Africa. They are mild brown and are recognized for his or her glorious teats and calving ease. Jersey adapts effectively to sizzling areas. Due to their small dimension, they eat much less and graze higher. 


Guernsey can vary in shade from cow to fawn and infrequently has white legs and white elements on its physique. Guernsey is mild reddish-brown and white. It makes calves simply and has a high-fat content material in its milk. Guernsey is barely bigger than Jersey however smaller than Holstein. Guernsey adapts effectively to nearly any local weather and is understood for its good mood and well-connected to the udder.


It is also referred to as the “aristocrat” of dairy breeds due to its vigor and dimension. They are rusty purple and white and adapt simply to their surroundings. Ayrshire is barely smaller in contrast to Holstein and may be culled for meat. It is white and reddish-brown and produces milk with a excessive butterfly content material. Its milk is especially appropriate for consuming milk. Ayrshire can function in hot and cold climates. 

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Feeding Arrangement for Cows
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Imported breeds want higher dwelling situations like homes or shelter and better-quality meals. Due to adaptation points, cross-breeding is changing into in style amongst knowledgeable dairy breeds and indigenous breeds. 

Dairy goat breeds 

British Alpine, Saanen, and Toggenburg are three breeds contributing to South Africa’s small dairy goat {industry}. Most goat’s milk is processed and bought as goat’s cheese. Thus, the milk high quality, particularly the casein content material, is crucial. 

Feeding administration

High-quality forage is the most important constraint for smallholder dairy manufacturing in South Africa due to soil high quality and local weather. This is why profitable smallholder dairy farmers pursue their fodder with focus. The larger the standard of fodder produced on the farm, the much less focus (grain) have to be bought or produced. Fodder necessities may be met by pastures utilization, inexperienced chips, silage, hay, or each.

Silage or grass is ready to present dry climate through the wet season, the place rainfall is restricted. Smallholder dairy farmers use animal habits information to enhance the well-being and productiveness of cows. For instance, watering and feeding methods must be positioned the place younger or inexperienced animals can discover them. Access to feed may be extra essential than the precise quantity of vitamins offered. In addition to producing some coarse milk, younger inexperienced farms additionally assist the pastures.

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Dairy Farming
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Green pasture is probably the most economical meals for dairy cattle, contemplating the dietary worth and manufacturing price. Effective pasture use is a particular method to scale back feed prices in dairy herds. Fodder for his or her livestock is likely one of the highest prices for a dairy producer, whether or not from their grazing land or crops being grown or bought. Pasture-based dairy producers spend extra effort and time sustaining the pastures and thus present fodder to their cattle.

Pasture administration strategies reminiscent of grazing are customary for milk manufacturing. Many massive dairies that feed their livestock have a devoted nutritionist accountable for making ready the meals primarily based on animal well being, milk manufacturing, and cost-efficiency. The weight loss plan have to be differentiated in accordance to every animal’s progress price, milk manufacturing, and reproductive standing to maximize output. The well being and productiveness of dairy animals and the standard and security of their milk rely totally on the supply of correct meals and water.

Feeding strategies utilized by small-scale dairy producers in growing international locations require grazing, which requires massive areas. Tethering permits full use of roadsides, farming areas, and so forth., and stall or pan feeding, which requires extra labor enter. They are fed to both the entire herd or particular person animals when dietary supplements are offered. In addition, dairy animals use massive quantities of water for milk manufacturing and being pregnant. Therefore, entry to water considerably impacts milk manufacturing.

Milking hygiene

Most small-scale dairy farmers milk their animals by hand in growing international locations. Hand-feeding permits the place sufficient labor is obtainable, milking with minimal funding, gear upkeep, and cleanliness. However, with modernity, these milking practices are disappearing. On medium to massive dairy farms, the place higher dairy breeds are used, it’s extra frequent and handy to milk animals with milking machines.

Regardless of the strategy of milking (hand or machine), it’s important to forestall milk contamination throughout and after milking. Good dairy farming practices make sure that lactation practices don’t hurt animals or contaminate milk for milk hygiene. Naturally, although, this milking is completed underneath hygienic situations. 

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Dairy Farm
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Challenges dealing with smallholder dairy farmers 

Rural-urban migration in South Africa has elevated milk demand by means of meals and revenue. To meet the demand, the comparatively low productiveness of small dairy cows wants to be improved by eradicating numerous limitations that have an effect on small farmers. Poor use of recent applied sciences, lack of coaching and funds, low milk costs, meals shortages, poor farm administration, low productiveness and reproductive effectivity, and excessive prevalence of illnesses are the principle limitations for smallholder dairy farmers. Also, poor record-keeping, poor sterilization providers, and a productive surroundings are constraints to small homeowners’ dairy growth.

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