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Dairy continues tornado clean-up

By Staff | Oct 25, 2013

BRIAN SMITS, left, gives a little extra attention to a Jersey cow at Sioux Jersey Dairy in Salix. The farm had several buildings destroyed or damaged in the Oct. 4 tornado.

By JOLENE STEVENS

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SALIX – Managers of the Sioux Jersey Dairy, near Salix, were busy last week as workers continue clean-up operations from the Oct. 4 tornado that destroyed two cattle barns and caused other property damage.

Brian Smits, general manager, said he’s been in constant meetings with company representatives offering help with services and supplies.

The dairy lost one of its 4,200 head; post-tornado milk production did show “a slight drop” due to the weather.

A YOUNG HEIFER at the Sioux Jersey Dairy in Salix peers through a cattle barn’s opening created by the Oct. 4 tornado.

Cows being milked at the time the storm hit, Smits said, didn’t appear to notice the severe weather activity.

“Once the barn began falling,” he said, “they naturally became nervous.”

Normal production at the dairy owned by Bud and Lance Mouw, which opened in 2004, is “pretty much top production,” Smits said.

Dr. Greg Bleeker, herd veterinarian and a Sioux Center native, said cows in this dairy average 60 to 65 pounds of milk daily. For the entire herd, that computes to five trailer loads of milk shipped daily to Wells Blue Bunny in Le Mars for processing into various ice cream products.

“Our first and foremost concern on getting back to normal is for our cows,” Bleeker said. “We care for them. We feed them, and we milk them each and every day.

“A lot of our present cows were bought in 2004 and are still being milked.

“They’re considered sustainable members of our herd and account for a successful operation.”

This sustainability, he said, is a major factor in what he and Smits look for when adding to the herd while selecting replacement heifers.

Important, too, he said, is that the cows milk well and care for their calves.

Five hundred of the cows in the Sioux Jersey herd are being milked by another dairy as the storm damage repair continues, Smits said.

“Our first and foremost priority is in addition to the comfort of the cow,” Smits said, “is getting routine feeding, bedding and milking back to where it was” before the tornado.

“What we want to continue to do is harvest a quality milk product and (get) the best quality of milk we can into the tank.”

Bleeker said he appreciates the help following the tornado, specifically what he called the fostering-out of a portion of the dairy herd while at the same time observing the delivery repair supplies.

“We have dairymen wanting to take care of dairymen,” he said. “We’re being well taken care of and are grateful for the help they’re giving us.”

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