Bulletin No.


Document Type



Department of Dairy Husbandry


There are two fundamental factors which should be considered in starting a dairy herd. The first factor is the experience and training of the prospective dairyman. Success in the dairy business presupposes that the management shall have some knowledge of how to feed and care for dairy cows. Without this knowledge a low average production is likely to result, even with good producing cows. Dairy experience should not be gained with a high priced herd and at the expense of good producers. The second factor which should be given consideration before deciding on the method of starting the herd is the buildings in which the herd will be housed. This does not mean that one must have an expensive barn with modern equipment. However, one must have a barn. which can be kept comfortable during the cold weather and in which a clean, wholesome product can be produced. Profitable production can not be expected from dairy cows kept out of doors or in cold buildings during inclement weather. If the prospective dairyman lacks the experience and training so necessary to success and does not have a barn which can be kept comfortable and clean, he would no doubt find it to his advantage to grow into the business gradually by using a purebred dairy sire of the breed in which he is interested. This would afford the opportunity of gaining experience and getting the necessary buildings in shape while the dairy herd is developed. Many farmers in the northwest have scrub or grade cows and the data presented in this bulletin show that where a purebred dairy sire, having good producing ancestors, is mated to such animals it is only a comparatively short time before a high producing herd may be established. Observations bear out the statement that farmers who begin dairying by using good purebred sires and cull out the low producing cows rarely fail in the dairy business. To some the purebred sire route may seem too long and slow but to those who do not have the finances necessary to furnish the care, feeding and housing so necessary to success, this method is to be recommended. Buying high grade dairy cows appeals to many prospective dairymen as the most feasible method of starting a dairy herd. If the purchaser is an experienced dairyman and is equipped to care for the cows properly, this procedure has much in its favor. However, there are pitfalls which should be kept in mind in buying grades from dairy sections. Too of ten the grades are bought regardless of their production and as a result the purchaser finds he has a herd of culls, which in many instances are not as good milkers as some of the scrubs, or grade beef animals he already owns. It is also increasingly difficult to purchase cows in large numbers from dairy sections without introducing disease. Contagious diseases once introduced are very difficult to eradicate from the herd and buildings. Too often those who purchase grade dairy cows have the feeling that high grade cows are all profitable producers, even when kept under adverse conditions. This type of dairyman is often disappointed. The reasons may not always be obvious but the beginner is likely to put the cause of the failure on the cows and not on the management.


dairy bulls, dairy genetics, dairy sires, dairy sires selection



Publication Date









South Dakota Experiment Station, South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts