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How modern dairy farms work

By Staff | Jul 1, 2016

LEE MAASEN, of Maasen Dairy, gives a bit of extra attention to a calf in the children’s exhibit before the June 22 open house activities get underway.

MAURICE – Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was among hundreds of guests at the June 22 Dairy Month open house at the Maasen Dairy to give a special salute to Iowa’s dairy industry.

“It’s exciting to see the dairy industry coming back into the state of Iowa,” Branstad said at Maurice farm. “It’s gone through some challenges but what we’re seeing here is a great example of a family that has seen its dairy operation grow and is going into its fifth generation.

“The whole family is involved. It employs a lot of people, and they’ve a market for their product.”

Touting the dairy as a Iowa family business producing dairy products, Branstad cited Wells Blue Bunny plant in nearby Le Mars for its ice cream, cottage cheese and yogurt as products for Iowa consumers.

“Our dairy industry is growing here in Iowa and coming back, having gone through some challenges,” Branstad said, “and now Sioux County is our leading dairy county in Iowa.”

ONE OF THE MAASENS’ 1,200 dairy cows relaxes in the large free-stall barn facility.

“Agriculture overall has faced a lot of challenges,” he added. “However, here in Sioux City, as one of the successful counties in Iowa in all types of livestock production, this speaks well for the hard-working people here.”

“They’ve been progressive.”

All in the family

Stefan Maasen and his brothers, Aaron and Adam, have worked alongside their father in the generational dairy since they were youngsters.

“Our open house and the activities that are taking place give us the opportunity to educate consumers on what a modern dairy farm is really like,” Stefan Maasen said. “This includes the management and production steps we take to make sure our milk is wholesome, clean and filtered with attention paid to how we care for the environment.”

GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD visits with Aaron Maasen, left, and his father, Lee Maasen, during the governor’s June 22 visit at the June Dairy Month open house. It was hosted by the Maasens on their farm near Maurice. About 1,700 people visited the dairy.

“We want to be good stewards of what God has given us and to treat our people as we would want to be treated.”

Maasen said the family’s 1,200-head cow herd is housed in naturally ventilated free-stall barns with additional fans and sprinklers, clean water and sand bedding.

The animals are fed balanced rations from the crops produced on the 1,000-acre farm. It requires the silage from an acre of corn to feed each cow for the year.

All the dairy calves are housed adjacent to the dairy, with the heifers eventually joining the the herd and bulls sold as breeding stock.

“We consider our operation a full cycle way of being good stewards,” he said. “We plant winter rye as a cover crop because we take a lot of residue off when we chop for silage.”

“We want to be good stewards of what God has given us and to treat our people as we would want to be treated.” —Stefan Maasen Maurice-area dairy farmer

“All the manure wastes go back on the ground. It’s basically a full-circle way of dairying.”

Lee Maasen said his family thinks it’s exciting to host events such as the open house.

“It’s good for us to tell our story and for those attending to see first-hand the care we give our animals and how we work with our employees,” he said. “Plus everyone has fun and the opportunity to enjoy quality ice cream and food.”

The open house included other agricultural organizations with exhibits, such as Iowa State University Extension, Sioux County Cattlemen, 4-H, Iowa Food and Family Network and Iowa Corn Growers Association.

Iowa Dairy Princess Kate Stewart was another of the special guests to stop by.

Karen Appleton, of Sanborn, said she welcomed the opportunity to be on hand.

“The dairy industry depends on the corn we produce,” Appleton, who was at the corn growers’ display, said. “We in turn enjoy helping them promote the dairy industry important to dairy families.”

“It’s good for all of us.”

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