Back to Events List

Small-Scale Dairying

16 Sterling Drive
Craftsbury Common, VT

Running a successful, sustainable, and satisfying farmstead dairy and creamery requires knowledge and skill in the areas of animal husbandry, dairy product manufacturing, and business management.This course covers all three components in detail, providing students with the tools to effectively manage a healthy herd of dairy animals and produce and effectively market sought-after dairy products. It emphasizes doing so in a holistic way that supports a balanced life for the farmer.

In hands-on sessions, we will assess milk quality and the dairy environment. Students will learn to perform their own microbiological petrifilm plate counts and to conduct lacto-fermentation testing of milk to assess cleanliness and “aptitude” for making fantastic tasting and safe dairy products. We will also explore ways to use qualitative and quantitative tests to compare milk samples from different farms and dairy species. We’ll take a close look at animal care and feeding, udder health, connection to productivity and quality, and holistic practices to promote udder health and to support immunity.

During interactive classroom sessions, we will dive deep into business management, taking a step-by-step approach to developing a viable business plan. As we think through the unique challenges and opportunities of operating a home-based business, we will explore innovative business and management options for dairies, including once-a-day and flexible milking schedules, and other ways to optimize production and reduce labor, chemical, and feed costs. Other labor and management issues such as necessity of herd managers, use of interns and guest helpers, and the importance of downtime for the farmer owner will be covered, as well as feeding naturally to improve marketability of milk products through increased healthy fat content.

The course will include several field trips to dairy farms and processing facilities that will give the student the opportunity to observe and apply what they have learned.