Customer Reviews

Dairy Equipment and Milking Supplies

What Types of Milking Equipment and Dairy Supplies Do You Need to Run a Dairy Farm?

Parlor equipment, pasteurizers, automatic milking machines, milk containers, and buckets are just some of the equipment that is used on a dairy farm. The specific kind of equipment needed depends upon the dairy operation’s size, its location, as well as the quantity of animals (goats, sheep, or cows) being milked. Other kinds of equipment typically found on a dairy farm includes tractors and feeders, watering equipment, milk chiller tanks, waste handling systems, and automated scrapers.

For smaller dairy farms, the only milking equipment needed is a bucket and a stool. Usually, larger operations use milking parlors-- areas that have livestock chutes that are arranged inside a circle. Workers on a farm bring the cows inside the area to be milked. When the cows are inside their pens, workers connect automated milking devices to the udders of the cow to begin the process of milking.

The milk that is produced moves through a sequence of pipes to the farm's processing and storage center for pasteurization and more processing, depending upon the dairy farm's capabilities and product needs. Usually, a mechanical separator will separate the milk from the cream, and employees send the separated items to chillers or for more processing to make goods like butter. Let’s break down this equipment further:

Equipment Needed for Smaller Dairy Farms

Here is a list of the equipment needed for smaller dairy farms:

Milking Machines

Milking machines might not be required if you have plans on manually milking cows; but, adding milking machines into the dairy may speed the rate of production, as well as free up time for additional tasks.

It will take from 5 - 7 minutes to milk a cow with the use of a portable machine; therefore, with a smaller herd, it’s an affordable milking solution. An 8-gallon bucket milker will be sufficient.

Bucket milkers have a bucket that has a lid, claw, pulsator, and a vacuum pump. The pump attaches to the milker using a vacuum line then when the cow is milked, the bucket fills up. An 8-gallon bucket may hold milk from 1 - 2 cows, depending upon the quantity of milk generated.

However, for bigger herds; a bucket milker might not be sufficient, and you might have to invest in a more robust solution.

A good, high-quality, portable milking machine with all necessary accessories generally costs between $1500 - $2500.


Pasteurization is critical for the safety of food, and since the year 1973, the FDA has mandated that only pasteurized products can be distributed interstate.

Dairy goods that don’t get pasteurized may carry bacteria such as Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E.coli. Unpasteurized goods are referred to as “raw.” In the U.S., raw dairy items are legal; but they may cause serious illness, so they’re discouraged.

Milk pasteurizers may cost between $500 and $5,000. That price depends upon capacity and whether you invest only in a pasteurizer or multi-functional unit such as a pasteurizer, yogurt, and cheese kettle.


Frequently, homogenization gets mixed up with pasteurization, yet they’re two separate processes. Actually, homogenization is going to follow the process of pasteurization. Pasteurization will make dairy products safer, but homogenization is going to make them produce a better consistency and taste.

Homogenizers break the fat molecules down inside milk in order to create a better consistency all throughout and prevent the separation of fat molecules. 

The milk will form a thick, creamy layer at the top, without the process of homogenization – something that older people might remember from the era of milk being delivered.

A homogenizer gets utilized for a variety of dairy goods, which includes cheese, yogurt, and milk.

Small dairy homogenizers may cost between $600 and $3,000; however, commercial machinery costs more than $20,000.

Cream Separators

Cream or milk separators are units that separate cream from milk. When it is separated, you wind up with skimmed milk and cream.

Separators are available in different forms.

Hand crank separators require that you do everything by hand. Unless you’re operating an extremely small dairy, it is not the best solution. A manual separator or hand crank costs about $300.

Electric cream separators spin the milk, and centrifugal force separates the cream and the milk. More compact electric milk separators that are able to handle 2-1/2 gallons at one time and process roughly 21 gallons/ hour cost approximately $350.

Bigger electric cream separators that accommodate more separation per hour cost from $700 to $1,000. About $1,000 will get you separators that have the ability to process about 34 gallons/ hour.

Fodder/Chaff Cutters

Fodder cutters or chaff cutters also may be referred to as “feed cutters.” They are exactly what chaff cutters do – they cut straw and hay into tiny pieces, and the “chaff” that results is blended with additional forage for feed.

In order to use chaff cutters, hay or straw gets fed inside the cutters, and the sharp blades of the chaff cutters are cut it into tiny pieces. Then, the chaff either is blown away from the unit through a chute or funneled from the device, like how wood chippers blow out wood chips.

The feed that results may be baled or fed through feeders or may be distributed inside the field for grazing.

Fodder/chaff cutters are available as large industrial models or more compact machinery. Compact machinery costs from $300 to $500. Bigger commercial machinery costs $3,000+.

Temperature Chart Recorders

Temperature chart recorders are electric monitors that track and document the temperature of the wash water and milk.

Temperature chart recorders have sensors which read the water or milk’s temperature. The sensors report to the pen, recording the temperature according to received readings.

It’s possible to set recorders to set off alarms at certain temperature ranges in order to be notified of unhealthy changes in temperature and incorrect processes of washing.

Machines recording and reading the water and milk’s temperature are referred to as "circular chart recorders." They may monitor an array of measurements, yet the most important measurement is its temperature.

It’s important that you have high-quality recorders because they make sure that the milk gets cooled to the necessary temperature then stored at the necessary temperature to be safe for consumption and is of the highest quality.

Temperature chart recorders are available with time-period ratings that record for one day at a time or seven days. For 2-day temperature chart recorders, it’s possible to pay about $1,000. For seven-day recorders, you’ll pay roughly $1,500. 

Milk Tanks

For a micro dairy, you’ll have to buy two kinds of tanks – processing tanks and storage tanks. One kind of tank stores milk, and the additional tank processes it.

A 100-gallon tank is priced at approximately $4,000 and a thirty-gallon mixing tank is priced at about $3,000.

Most often, a 220-gallon cooling tank is priced at about $7,300, whereby a milk cooling tank is designed of stainless steel and a fourteen-gallon tank is priced at roughly $2,000.

Packaging Systems

If you have plans on packaging your very own dairy items in any quantity, you’ll have to invest in packaging systems.

In the instance of dairy goods, packaging systems typically incorporate capping mechanisms and liquid dispensers. Then, the systems fill up yogurt containers and seal them or milk bottles and cap them, etc.

Before you buy packaging systems, it’s vital that you know which products you want to produce. Various items need various components to packaging systems. A yogurt pot must be heat sealed whereby a cap merely screws onto a bottle, for example. That means an extra investment for a heat-sealing controller on packaging systems.

A packaging system isn’t cheap; however, there are some micro-dairy specialty manufacturers available that provide smaller-scale machines. 

Don’t forget that when you buy packaging machines, you additionally must anticipate the container’s prices.

The best choice for investing in a container includes finding a local supplier, as bulky container shipments are going to be expensive.

Milk Pumps

You’ll require pumps that transport your milk, if you have plans on moving milk from station to station.

Milk pumps move milk from refrigerated storage tanks to processing tanks, then, as the milk gets processed, it’s moved from processing tanks to cooling storage tanks.

Like tanks that are utilized in the storing and processing, a milk pump should be designed of stainless steel since it’s the most hygienic substance.

High-quality milk pumps are as critical as the quality of materials that are used to manufacture them. High-quality means milk pumps gently handle the milk when moving it rapidly so the milk doesn’t experience temperature changes which may alter the milk.

A milk pump may range in size, range in power, as well as have a multiple-phase or a single-phase pump.

Pumps may range so much in capacity, features, and design that it may be difficult to anticipate expense unless you know precisely what you’re looking for. Portable pumping stations that have electric transfer pumps may cost approximately $3,000, whereby a stainless steel, low-volume liquid transfer milk pump is priced at about $1,100, for example.

Front Loaders/Tractors

Tractors don’t really "fit in" with aforementioned dairy equipment, yet it’ll be a requirement for dairy owners.

For a small dairy, you don’t really have to have a full-sized model; however, some tractors certainly will be handy.

Reliable tractors are helpful for tilling fields, moving hay bales, and also working with the livestock. But, as a micro dairy, you don’t have to buy a recently released, high-priced model of tractor. You’re simply on the lookout for a reliable and sturdy tractor.

Investing in a tractor for a dairy operation may be costly. But many great loan and financing options may help to spread out the investment price. Just don’t allow financing to be an excuse to buy a tractor with a lot more than what is really needed!

What should you look for in a good tractor? While you might not require a loud stereo system, you should search for the below features while investing in a dairy tractor:

  • How comfortable is the model you’re interested in?
  • How are the model’s safety ratings and year of the tractor you’re considering?
  • Is it powered by diesel or gas? A diesel tractor is going to have a lengthier fuel-life than a gas tractor; however, a gas tractor is more dependable to start at daybreak!
  • Will the tractor be available with the "add-ons" needed? A tow bar, for example.
  • Will the tractor's capability match the terrain of the dairy as well as your intended use?

In addition, as a small dairy operation, you are going to want to ensure that you invest in a tractor that has as many applicable uses as humanly possible; therefore, be on the lookout for a tractor that features front loaders. A front loader is very helpful on a dairy farm!

Similar to vehicles, the costs of tractors may significantly vary depending upon what you’re looking for. Although, assuming that you’re a micro-dairy that has limited funds, it is possible to pick up a used, older front loader for roughly $10,000 - $15,000. A "newer" used front loader is going to set you back about $22,000 - $35,000.

Are you considering investing in a brand-new tractor? New utility tractors are going to be priced anywhere from $80,000 and $100,000.

Owning and running a micro-dairy or small dairy farm is going to require commitment, money, and time, and striking a harmonious balance between those three may be a challenge. Purchasing the proper equipment will help to create the balance by maximizing your dairy output and improving your micro-dairy efficiency. The best method of doing that with a limited budget includes investing in the proper equipment.

All in all, while investing a limited budget into machines for a micro-dairy, you are going to want to strike a balance between product usability, product cost, as well as brand reputation and durability. You can’t afford to have much down-time on a dairy farm!

For more information on dairy equipment, milking supplies, and milking equipment, please feel free to contact us at Farm and Ranch Depot today at 1-928-951-8332. widget logo