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Holstein association stops in northwest Iowa

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 03/28/2013 9:00 PM

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PAULLINA — The Iowa Holstein Association recently spent two days visiting dairy farms and related livestock businesses in northwest Iowa.

Other trips in past years took producers to Wisconsin and Illinois.

"Many of our producers in northeast Iowa expressed an interest in seeing dairies in the northwest corner of the state," said Matt Hamlet, association president. "We thought we would support Holstein breeders here."

Dairying differs in northeast Iowa where there aren't as many dairies over 1,000 cows. Robotic milking is more common in the northeast corner, he said.

The itinerary included Trans Ova Genetics, Sioux Center; Dyk-Vue Holsteins, Orange City; Roorda Dairy, Paullina; Great Heritage Holsteins, Sibley; and Hawkeye Holsteins, Ruthven.

Trans Ova was a natural stop, said Mark Kemdt.

"They have played a major role in the cattle breeding industry. Many of our members have done business with them through their satellite centers but have never been to their main headquarters."

The Dyk-Vue herd is well known for the high-producing cows it produces.

Leroy Eggink and Dave Chapman are members of the Iowa Holstein Association. They also have to two of the best herds in the state. That made their dairies a must see, Kemdt said.

John Roorda gave a history of the five-year-old Roorda Dairy near Paullina. The dairy milks 3,700 cows three times daily. The cows are housed under one roof.

"Each stop was so unique," said Donna Gibbs of Dyersville. "Each dairy producer does something a bit different."

The tours are a learning experience for Walt Wessel of Clayton County. Traveling with other dairy producers is another perk.

"Talking to other dairy farmers, who share a common interest is good," he said. "And I always learn something that I can take home and put to use on my dairy farm."

Pierce Harbaugh of Postville thoroughly enjoyed the two-day trip. The 10-year-old missed school, but said learning didn't stop. He found the different farms interesting and saw how the same chores he did on his family farm were done in northwest Iowa.