Gordie Jones, technical services veterinarian with Monsanto Dairy Business, Underwood, Wash., predicts four types of dairies will make it in the 21st Century. See which of the following categories best describes your operation:


  • Last generation. These dairies will not make capital improvements and will continue to milk until the retirement of the operator. “When the producers retires, the dairy is done,” says Jones.
  • Lifestyle. The USDA 1992 census information says that 15 percent of dairy farms earn the majority of income from off-farm sources. People who enjoy the lifestyle dairying offers, but do not require the farm to produce 100 percent of their income, will also survive.
  • Niche excellence. Jones says these operations succeed in some areas, irrespective of the operation’s size. This might be due to cost control, product marketing or genetics. This specialty will help the business succeed.
  • Large-scale. The future will contain many dairies that grow in size to capitalize on economies of scale. For Midwest and Northeast dairies this will require 200 cows or more while Western dairies will need 600 cows or more, he says. And, those cow numbers will continue to trend upward.