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Good year at the Iowa Beef Expo

By Jean Caspers-Simmet
simmet@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 03/12/2013 2:58 PM

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DES MOINES — Mike Dierenfeld, a Northwood veterinarian and Hereford breeder, was seated in a lawn chair in the Iowa State Fair cattle barn going through health papers for the Iowa Beef Expo Hereford sale.

"Our Iowa Hereford Breeders Association has three veterinarians with Hereford cattle in Iowa, and we rotate doing health papers for the Beef Expo for our breed," Dierenfeld said. "This happens to be my year."

Across the aisle were Dierenfeld's entries in the Iowa Select Hereford Sale. Mike Dierenfeld Family, or MDF, Polled Herefords consigned a bull, MDF Zate 2Z, born Dec. 28, 2011, and a heifer, MDF Miss Zynne 23Z, born Jan. 20, 2012.

In addition to his veterinarian practice, Dierenfeld and his wife, Joan, raise and show Herefords. He is treasurer of the Iowa Beef Breeds Council and one of the Hereford representatives on the board.

He and Joan started raising Herefords in 1986 when they got two bred Polled Herefords.

"We got them because we had a two-year-old daughter, and we didn't want to have to buy cattle when she got into 4-H," Dierenfeld said. "That kind of mushroomed into 75 purebred cows."

Their daughters Allyson and Ashley are now married with children of their own.

"It kind of started as their project and grew from there," Dierenfeld said. "Now my wife and I do it. Joan says we have too many cattle."

The Dierenfelds started calving Jan. 1.

"January calving is a little more labor intensive because the cattle have to be in where it's warm," Dierenfeld said. "But it's a lot easier to sell purebred bulls that are born in January and February because they have more age to them."

This year's Iowa Select Hereford Sale included 70 lots.

"We expanded the sale from 55 to 70 lots because there's been such a demand for Herefords the last few years," Dierenfeld said. "The sales have been very good. Two years ago we had the highest selling breed average for both heifers and bulls. Last year we were second. Not too many years ago we used to be last. Herefords have come a long way."

Dierenfeld said the Hereford Association has upgraded its sale. Joe Rickabaugh, American Hereford Association field man, screens the cattle that will be in the sale. Rickabaugh works in four states to pick the cattle he wants in the sale.

"He does an excellent job picking cattle," Dierenfeld said. "That's why our sale is so good."

Dierenfeld said that Iowa Beef Expo numbers in general were up for 2013.

"Herefords and Limousins were both up in numbers," he said. "The Chianinas, on the other hand, decided not to have a sale this year. Last year the Iowa Beef Expo set a record of $2 million in sales."

Dierenfeld said director Mindy Campfield does an excellent job running the Iowa Beef Expo.

Chuck Gatewood, his wife, Leann, their son, Marcus, and daughter, Alexis, raise both Angus and Lowlines on their farm near Eagle Grove as Gatewood Genetics. He and Marcus helped Matt Reinkens of Boone care for Lowlines owned by Connell Stock Farm of Stillman Valley, Ill.

Gatewood has 15 Lowline cow-calf pairs. He's been raising Lowlines since 2009 and he also has 15 to 20 Angus.

"We started raising Lowlines in 2009," Gatewood said. "My daughter Alexis did not want to show big cattle, and she fell in love with the Lowlines."

Gatewood said that the diminutive Lowlines appeal to hobby farmers and people "who just don't want large cattle."

"Lowlines' benefits are calving ease, they're docile, a lot easier to break, and they're a good fit for younger children who want to show cattle," Gatewood said.

Gatewood said he likes both Lowlines and Angus.

"The challenge is getting the right genetics," he said.