Animal Science Tour was a Success

Thirty-one NACAA members and family enjoyed a great Animal Science Pre-tour that started with a Thursday evening social gathering. The tour left early Friday with the first stop at the Tama Livestock Auction, where Jason Lekin shared the history of this three-generation barn. As a member of the Livestock Marketing Association, which helped sponsor the tour. We also saw their collection of gold tractor models. Following last years tradition, the weight of the group was 6,630 pounds!

Tama Livestock auction facility.We then traveled to the Jay Schanbacher dairy at Atkins, Iowa. Jay uses the Trans Iowa Low Cost swing-20 parlor designed by Iowa State. This 300-cow dairy is also utilizing solar technology to provide all the electricity needs of the farm.

We also saw an alternative energy system at Amana Farms Feedlot and Digester where the feedlot manure and food waste from Cedar Rapids combine to produce electricity from methane. The waste from the digester is then pumped across the 20,000 acre farm to be used as fertilizer for crop production. Amana Farms is one of the largest cow herds in Iowa with over 2,000 cows and finishing out over 5,000 head of cattle. We then shared in an old German family-style lunch at the Ronneburg Restaurant in Amana. No one left hungry!

Traveling to southeast Iowa, we spent the afternoon at Premier1 Supplies. Premier1 is a family-owned business started by Stan and Jean Potratz over 40 years ago. Premier has been providing electric fencing and electric netting, sheep and goat supplies, clippers and shearers, ear tags, poultry products and expert advice for over 40 years. Premier has three farms where they raise chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, meat goats and horses, and they test everything before selling it to others. Enjoying ice cream.

Our final stop for the night was the Celebration River Cruise, with a delicious dinner on the mighty Mississippi River. The weather was gorgeous with a nice breeze and a beautiful sunset!

Saturday morning we met with Randel Raub at the Kent Nutrition Research Farm in Muscatine. Kent Nutrition Group’s (KNG’s) Research Farm campus covers over 800 acres and includes five primary facilities. At this facility, feeding trials are conducted to evaluate feed ingredients and new feed formulations to improve efficiency and gain while supporting overall animal health. The view overlooking the farm was amazing.

A short drive to Kalona took us to the Gerald Bontrager farm. Gerald milks 180 does that produce about 3,200 pounds of milk on average. Gerald produces some of the top dairy goat genetics in the nation. He has a double 13 milking parlor. A short drive to Gerald’s neighbor, Illa Miller where we had an authentic Amish lunch made and served by Illa and her family. Everyone was more than full when we left.

While most swine farms do not allow visitors, the Brenneman Pork operation at Washington, Iowa, is actually designed to encourage visitors! Erin, Jim, Jeremy and Rob Brenneman gave an overview of their Farm tour with sunny business, and a tour of their new gestating barns. Their focus is to raise quality pork in an efficient, humane and environmentally responsible manner. Brenneman Pork works hard to produce the highest quality pork products for its consumers and promote the pork industry, with most family members working with the farm on a daily basis. The partnership with local contract producers and grain farmers has allowed Brenneman Pork to expand into a successful operation committed to delivering high quality, wholesome pork to families around the world! We topped off the day with a stop for ice cream at the Kalona Creamery.

After two long days and over 500 miles of touring southeast Iowa, we ended up at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino for a relaxing dinner and watched the horse races. We not only saw food production, but also enjoyed plenty of good eating!

This year’s tour was sponsored by Premier1 Supplies, NACAA Animal Science Committee,  Iowa SARE, Kent Feeds and the Livestock Marketing Association.

(By Denise Schwab, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach)