Dairy Cattle Management

Course CodeBAG205
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
  • Would you like to learn more about dairy cattle?
  • Understand Dairy Breeds?
  • Gain a better understanding of dairy products?
  • Understand the lactation process?
  • Feeding Dairy Cattle?
  • Managing Dairy Cattle?
    Breeding Dairy Cattle?
  • Managing Dairy Farms?
Then why not start this 100 hour course immediately! You can enrol now!
This course is suitable for -
  • Anyone who wishes to work in dairy cattle management and breeding
  • People who wish to improve their knowledge in dairy cattle management
  • Anyone wishing to gain a greater understanding of dairy cattle management
  • Improve your success in dairy cattle management
A useful course for -
  • Farm staff
  • Dairy cattle staff
  • Agricultural journalists
  • Veterinarians
  • Veterinarian assistants
  • Anyone who wishes to increase their knowledge of dairy cattle.

Student Comment: "The course was put together very well. It covered all the important aspects of dairy farming and offered some important practical hands-on information that other courses lacked. I thoroughly enjoyed it and feel now that I have equipped myself to work on a dairy farm." K Mackenzie - Dairy Cattle course.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Dairy Breeds
    • Comparison of dairy breeds: the Ayrshire, Guernsey, Jersey, Holstein – Friesian, A.F.S. (Australian Friesian Sahiwal), Illawarra
    • Judging cattle: general appearance, dairy character, the udder.
  2. Dairy Products
    • The composition of milk: protein, lactose, ash
    • Factors affecting the composition of milk: environmental and physiological factors.
  3. The Lactation Cycle
    • Explain the management of the lactation cycle in dairy cattle, on a farm property.
    • The influence of the farmer on lactation, infertile cows, feeding, the milking shed, planning for feed- flow
  4. Pests & Diseases of Dairy Cattle
    • Manage the wellbeing of a dairy cow, including consideration of its health and vigour, to optimise quality and quantity of production (Part a – pests & diseases), mastitis, correct treatment techniques, dry cow therapy, viral & bacterial diseases in cattle, disease types in cattle.
  5. Feeding Dairy Cattle
    • Manage the wellbeing of a dairy cow, consideration of its health and vigour, to optimise quality and quantity of production (Part b - nutrition), working out dairy rations, maintenance requirements for a dairy cow, the dairy ration, working out the cost of dairy rations
  6. Managing Dairy Cattle
    • Manage general husbandry operations for the dairy cow
    • Managing the heifer, age of breeding, management of the dairy cow, factors affecting the milk yield.
  7. Breeding Dairy Cattle
    • Explain the significance of animal breeding programs for milk production, selection, artificial selection, regression, disadvantages of inbreeding
    • Performance testing
    • Artificial insemination, ova transplants.
  8. Managing Dairy Facilities
    • Explain the management of the facilities, including buildings and machinery at a farm dairy, basic requirements of all dairies, cooling of milk
    • Machine milking, components of a milking machine,
    • Choosing a system
    • Different types of systems.
  9. Dairy Business Planning
    • Develop a business plan for the management of a dairy property
    • Economics of dairying
    • Business plan example.


  • Select appropriate dairy breeds for different farming situations.
  • Describe the different characteristics, including their nature and scope, of dairy products.
  • Explain the management of the lactation cycle in dairy cattle, on a farm property.
  • Manage general husbandry operations for the dairy cow.
  • Manage the wellbeing of a dairy cow, including consideration of its health and vigour, to optimise quality and quantity of production.
  • Explain the significance of animal breeding programs for milk production.
  • Explain the management of the facilities, including buildings and machinery, at a farm dairy.
  • Develop a business plan for the management of a dairy property.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between three different breeds of dairy cattle, which are either significant in your locality, or have potential in the learner's locality, including:
    • size
    • appearance
    • preferred conditions
    • milk
    • cost per head.
  • Evaluate the suitability of three different dairy cattle breeds to a specified property, in a locality with which you are familiar.
  • Select appropriate dairy cattle breeds for each of four specified situations, with regard to:
    • pasture varieties
    • climatic conditions (eg. temperature and weather patterns)
    • locality
    • market requirements for the product
  • Judge a dairy cow, using a standard score card, such as the dairy cow unified score card produced (and revised in 1982) by the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association.
  • List the different dairy products which are commonly available, in the learner's locality.
  • Describe the composition of milk, with reference to different characteristics, including:
    • sediment
    • bacteria count
    • chemical impurities
    • somatic cell count
    • added water
    • flavour
  • Explain the different types of flavours in milk, referring to both cause and prevention factors, and using relevant terminology, including:
    • feed
    • rancid
    • flat
    • unclean
    • foreign
    • salt
    • acid
    • oxidised flavours
  • Explain how milk composition can affect its use for different purposes.
  • Explain how milk is processed, on a property visited by the learner, including the process of pasteurisation (sanitisation).
  • Explain how cheese is made, on a specific property.
  • Explain how yoghurt is made, on a specific property.
  • Explain how milk is processed to obtain cream, at a typical dairy.
  • Describe the lactation cycle of a dairy cow.
  • List the farm husbandry factors which can influence the lactation cycle.
  • Explain how three different variations in a cow's diet may affect lactation.
  • Prepare a plan for a feed flow program to support milk production on a specified property.
  • Produce a log book record of management tasks carried out, over a period of 1 month, to control the lactation cycle in dairy cattle on a specified property.
  • Milk a cow, verifying the proper undertaking of the task.
  • List the routine husbandry tasks carried out on different dairy cows, including those in milk and those that are dry.
  • Explain the routine husbandry tasks carried out on two different types of dairy cows, including those in milk and those that are dry.
  • Compare the management of heifers with that of milking cows on a specified dairy farm.
  • Describe the management of dairy cattle for meat production on a specified dairy farm.
  • Evaluate a production system on a dairy farm, in a locality you are familiar with.
  • List the pests and diseases that are significant for dairy cattle in your locality.
  • Develop a checklist for the signs of ill health, which should be routinely checked, in dairy cattle.
  • Describe three significant pests or diseases of dairy cattle, including mastitis.
  • Explain treatments for three different pests or diseases in dairy cattle.
  • Explain the irregularities which can occur in the functioning of the digestive system of dairy cattle.
  • Distinguish between a maintenance ration and production ration for a dairy cow.
  • Explain the nutritional requirements of a typical dairy cow on a specific property.
  • Calculate the rations for a dairy cow in accordance with specified characteristics, including:
    • weight
    • quantity of milk being produced
    • butterfat concentration
  • Prepare a collection of pasture plant species from two different dairy properties, and including:
    • samples of plants (ie. pressings of different plants in the pasture)
    • comments on the suitability of the pasture for dairy cattle.
  • Produce a twelve month plan to manage the vigour of dairy cattle, on a specified property, which includes:
    • a list of disease management procedures
    • feed program variations throughout the year
  • Explain a breeding program in use for dairy herd improvement on a specified property.
  • Explain the artificial insemination methods used with dairy cattle on a specified property.
  • List the criteria for selecting cattle for a dairy breeding program, in a locality which you are familiar with.
  • Plan a hypothetical breeding program, to improve milk quality and production for dairy cattle.
  • List the minimum physical facilities required for a viable dairy farm.
  • List factors affecting the siting of a dairy on a farm.
  • Prepare a plan for the construction of dairy facilities on a specified site, including:
    • sketch or concept plans of buildings,
    • fencing surrounding buildings, and interior layout
    • a list of materials, including types and quantities required for construction
    • a list of equipment to be installed
    • a schedule of construction tasks
  • Develop a profile of an ideal dairy farm site.
  • Select the machinery needed to operate a specified, hypothetical dairy farm.
  • Develop a maintenance program for dairy farm machinery, on a particular farm.
  • Explain the operation of typical milking machinery.
  • Explain the significance of farm water to the operation of a dairy farm.
  • Develop procedures for control of goods on a typical dairy farm, including:
    • ordering
    • receipt
    • dispatch
  • Explain two different ways to manage waste effluent from a typical dairy.
  • Develop guidelines for safe working practices at a typical dairy farm.
  • Explain legal requirements which are relevant to a dairy farm in a specified location.
  • Report on research, conducted by the learner from an information search, into innovations in the dairy industry.
  • Report on the implementation of recent innovations in the dairy industry.
  • List factors affecting profitability of a dairy property.
  • Explain factors affecting the cost of dairy production on a specified farm.
  • Write a job specification for one member of staff on a specific dairy property.
  • Develop criteria for assessing the management of a dairy property.
  • Prepare or evaluate a dairy farm budget for a specified property.
  • Prepare or evaluate a dairy farm financial report for a specified property.
  • Analyse marketing systems for marketing dairy products produced by a specified enterprise.
  • Explain factors affecting sales of dairy products on a specified farm.
  • Describe the selection and preparation of dairy cattle for sale in your locality.
  • Develop a marketing plan for a specified dairy product which addresses:
    • product presentation
    • delivery of product
    • promotions
    • customer relations
  • Develop a business plan for a specified dairy property.
  • Describe how the sale of dairy meat can be managed, in accordance with a business plan, while adhering to relevant regulations.

Managing a Dairy Cow can be Challenging
The term "management" is used a lot in connection with agriculture. It refers to the way a farmer looks after his crops, animals, finances and future planning. The good farmer keeps a high standard of management and looks after his farm well. Management is a combination of knowledge (knowing the right thing to do) and attention to detail (being able to see in good time when something is wrong and being able to put it right).
Good dairy management takes time to learn; but it can make all the difference between success and failure of a dairy farm.
Management is very important with all cattle but it is most important with dairy cattle.  All dairy cows are selected for milk production and have the genetic potential to produce well. In other words, they are capable of producing high yields and ought to be doing so. Whether they milk well or badly will depend on their management by the farmer. The heritability of milk production is 20% which is low. This means that 80% of the milk yield of the cow depends on how she is fed, milked and generally looked after by the farmer. 
Management can be divided into two areas, concerning:
  • The general health of the cows
  • The production of the cows
Some of the Things that Affect the Health of a Cow
Tick Control
Dairy cattle should be free of ticks and this can be achieved by regular dipping. If your farm is located in an area where ticks are an issue, you will need to undertake scheduled tick treatments as part of your management procedures. Dipping can be carried out in a plunge dip or a spray race. The latter is much better for high yielding dairy cows as they are less likely to damage themselves, particularly on their udders. Ears and tails should be inspected for ticks and dressed by hand, if necessary, with tick grease or a hand spray. Ticks cause many diseases and cause great discomfort to cattle. Both disease and discomfort result in reduced milk yields. 
While not undertaken by all farmers, it can be a good practice with dairy cows, using a stiff brush and a curry comb, maybe once a fortnight. It keeps the animals looking clean but, perhaps more importantly; it allows the herdsman to inspect the cows closely while he is brushing them. He can see and remove any ticks which the animals have picked up since the last dipping. He can also see small wounds or abscesses in the animal and dress these with disinfectant or healing oil. Grooming accustoms young cows to handling and builds up trust between milker and cow. There is also good evidence to suggest that grooming promotes better milk yields.
Dairy cattle are normally kept in yards or grazed in paddocks during the summer. They are well fed and not allowed to graze in wet areas where they would pick up liver flukes. Dairy cattle should have plentiful supplies of clean water available to them at all times. Because of their grazing regime, dairy cattle should not pick up many worms or flukes so they do not need to be dosed very often. A drenching for worms at the beginning of the rains can be carried out. Milking cows should not be drenched for liver fluke unless absolutely necessary as the medicine affects the milk and prevents it from being sold for at least three days. In general, dairy cattle should only be drenched against specific illnesses such as scouring, bloat or ketosis.
Depending on the area, some routine injections are given to dairy cattle. Young stock are injected against Contagious Abortion, Black-leg, Ephemeral fever and Leptospirosis while cows and bulls should be vaccinated against the venereal disease, Vibriosis. Normally, animals are injected against such diseases as Rabies, Anthrax, and Foot and Mouth only if cases have been reported in the area.
The aim of the farmer with a dairy herd should be to see that his cows produce a calf each year giving a Calving Index of 365 days (The Calving Index is the time in days between the cows “calving down” and producing the next calf). This is not easy to achieve and good farmers are happy with a Calving Index of below 390 days. If a Calving Index for a herd (i.e. the average of all the calving of all the cows in the herd) is over 400 days, the herd has an infertility problem and the cows are not conceiving properly. They are spending too much time as dry cows during which time no milk is produced.
The ideal is for a cow to calve down, milk for ten months, have a dry period of two months and then calve down again. Cows normally come on heat every 21 days after calving and then every 21 days after that until they conceive
If you are interested in learning more about how to run a successful dairy cattle farm.
If you are interested in improving your knowledge of dairy cattle management and care.
If you want to improve your job prospects and career prospects in dairy cattle management.
Then THIS is the course for you!  You can enroll now to start this excellent course!

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