Work on a Dairy Farm
Certain types of farms hire workers for tasks that are different from the jobs you’d perform on a general farm. One of the most popular types of specialized farms is the dairy farm. According to Dairy Farming Today, there are over 60,000 dairy farms in the United States, with 99% of those farms being family-owned.
Every year, each cow produces about 2,300 gallons, which means that dairy farms in this country account for about 21 billion gallons of milk annually.
When you work on a dairy farm, timing is everything. The dairy farmer job begins very early in the morning, often before dawn. The cows need to be milked early in the day, or their very full udders will become uncomfortable. Before the cows are even awake, though, you’ll be responsible for sterilizing the equipment used to milk the cows. Gone are the days when farmers sit on stools and milk each cow by hand. Most dairy farms have hundreds of animals, and the entire operation is automated.
After the first milking of the day takes place, or sometimes before, depending on the specific farm, workers feed the cows and monitor the milk supply. The milk runs from the cow’s udders to a large holding tank, where it must be properly stored until a truck takes it to be pasteurized and homogenized before it is sold to consumers. Some farms that sell milk directly go through this process right at the farm, so you could work in this capacity as well.
The cows are released into outdoor pastures if the farm is located in an area where the weather makes this possible. Stalls are cleaned, and workers will also inspect the animals to ensure that they’re healthy. Some dairy farms also keep bulls for breeding, so workers may also be responsible for insemination, caring for expectant mothers, helping with birthing, bottle feeding calves, and other related tasks.
Ten to twelve hours after their first milking of the day, the cows must be milked again. The process starts with sterilization this time as well, to ensure that the animals are as clean and healthy as possible. The cows are also fed a second time, and the milk must be checked again in the holding tanks.
Some dairy farms also have crops, as this is a less expensive way to keep the animals fed. Other dairy farms are switching to grass-feeding only, or as a supplement to grain. You job may include working in the fields, not just working with the animals.
Like with many farms, you can expect to start at minimum wage with a dairy farm job, though there is the opportunity to work through the ranks quickly if you’re a reliable worker. However, since a dairy farm must run around the clock, your hours may not be 9-to-5. Workers are needed to start as early as 4:00 AM at many dairy farms, and the farm work typically isn’t done until at least 6:00 PM. You may work three or four very long days, instead of working 40 hours over five days. Other dairy farms have two shifts of workers every day, and all need workers on weekends, just as they need workers during the week.