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Small Scale Dairying

June 5, 2017 @ 8:00 am - June 9, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

Faculty:  Gianaclis Caldwell

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.

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Prerequisites: This course is intended for aspiring and established farmers who wish to access a broad spectrum of information and skills needed to operate a small scale dairy selling fluid milk, fresh cultured products, or cheese. It may also appeal to consumers or serious home-scale producers wishing to know more about the technicalities of farmstead dairy production, herd management, sanitation, and processing.

Tuition & Fees: $1250 covers the cost of the instruction, field trips, most course materials, three meals per day from our top-ranked Sterling Kitchen, and ground transportation between class locations. Not included are airport transfers or accommodations; please let us know if we can assist you with finding or providing these.

Housing Availability & Fees: On-campus housing is available for an additional fee of $60 per night with a private bathroom and $50 per night with shared bathroom access. Please note that Sterling College offers rustic, dormitory-style housing that is clean and safe but not luxurious. Availability is limited and room requests are filled on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis.  Please visit our accommodations page for more options.


Need more details before you can register?  Let us know!


June 5, 2017 @ 8:00 am
June 9, 2017 @ 5:00 pm


Sterling College
16 Sterling Dr
Craftsbury Commons, VT 05827 United States