Milk is produced in all 50 U.S. states. While the number of dairy farms and level of milk consumption has declined in recent years, there are still many opportunities for small-scale dairy producers.
Dairy production has many challenges, such as increasing costs of production, meeting the nutritional needs of animals, labor, and regulations around selling milk and dairy products. Despite these challenges, there are many niches that can make dairy farming profitable, including grass-based cow dairies, locally bottled milk, artisan cheeses, ice cream, soaps, and many other value-added dairy products.
Dairy goats and dairy sheep are well-suited for small farms. NCAT’s practical ATTRA resources provide information on sustainable and organic production of dairy cattle, goats, and sheep.