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Couple adding cattle for organic farmingBy LARRY KERSHNER Farm News news editor DAYTON — A.J. and Kellie Blair is adjusting their farming operation for certified organic crops in this southern Webster County community. To meet the fertilizer needs for an

By Staff | Sep 10, 2010

-Farm News photo by Larry Kershner Visitors to the A.J. and Kellie Blair farm, in rural Dayton, look over the couple’s new sloped-roof cattle facility during an Aug. 26 farm tour as part of a grazing conference.

By LARRY KERSHNER

Farm News news editor

DAYTON – A.J. and Kellie Blair is adjusting their farming operation for certified organic crops in this southern Webster County community. To meet the fertilizer needs for an organic operation, the Blairs are expanding their swine livestock operation to include cattle.

The couple hosted a farm tour Thursday, sponsored by the Practical Farmers of Iowa. Participants of the tour had attending morning sessions in Fort Dodge on environmental issues concerning grazing requirements by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and federal Environmental Protection Agency. (See related story by Kriss Nelson.)

The Blairs conducted a tour of their new monoslope cattle barn. The unfinished barn is unoccupied by cattle. 2010 will be their first harvested certified organic crop.

Kellie and A.J. Blair of rural Dayton.

A.J. Blair said the decision to build a monoslope barn, over other designs, was one of personal preference. After researching cattle production inside various cattle facilities, he said he couldn’t see one design was superior to others.

“But having a roof is essential,” Blair said.

The barn is designed for 450 head. The south-facing side of the barn will be open, while the north side will have curtains for sheltering cattle during winter storms. He said a totally enclosed cattle facility would be hard on cattle, since bovines radiate immense amounts of heat.

Even in winter, he said, that many cattle can become heat-stressed without one open side.

He said he is set to feed a ration consisting or corn, oats, his own clover and ethanol by-products.

PFI’s Megan Ritter, said monoslope buildings are growing in popularity. She told Farm News that about 70 percent of the calls they get from cattle producers is about monoslope designs.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or at kersh@farm-news.com.

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