Boote family hosts June Dairy Month open house
By Renae B. Vander Schaff
Date Modified: 06/18/2012 2:23 PM
HULL, Iowa — Brothers Kevin and Terry Boote are hoping for a few days of dry weather before and on June 16. Their dairy farm will be on display at the 5th annual June Dairy Month open house hosted by the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance and Midwest Dairy Association.
"It is a day to celebrate dairy month and learn about agriculture," explained Kevin Boote.
The event is also sponsored by Sioux County Pork Producers, Sioux County Cattlemen, the Iowa Egg Council and Northwest Iowa Sheep Producers.
Food and parking will be at the nearby Agropur Cheese plant. Transportation will be provided to Donsons Farms for a tour and kids' activities. After the tour, breakfast sandwiches and a virtual tour of the cheese plant will be provided.
"There will be a self-guided tour of the farm," said Boote. "People can come and go at their own pace. There will be stations manned with specialists in the dairy industry. Nutritionists, veterinarians and calf consultants will all explain their roles on today's dairy farms. Agronomists will talk about the crops that surround the farm on two sides.''
The town has grown around the dairy. The Hull Industrial Park surrounds the farm on three sides.
"We consider ourselves to be just another tenant of the Industrial Park," said Terry.
Their milk is sold to Dairy Farmers of America.
The operation was started by Donald Boote when he moved to the farm in 1960. He had farmed with his brother Clarence until they separated their operations. Kevin was 18 months old when the family moved.
"Dad chose Donsons for his breeding prefix since his name was Don and he had five sons," he said. "During the sixties and into the seventies, we were a very traditional family farm. There were five of us boys and one sister. We did chores and worked together."
Donald Boote died in a farm accident, leaving a widow and seven children ages 3 through 21. One brother was severely disabled and died two years later. Kevin was 13 and Terry was 19 and attending Iowa State.
"That is when I started to milk," said Kevin.
Marilyn Boote kept the farm working with her sons and moved to town in 1986 and Kevin and his wife, Janet, took up residence. That is when Terry and Kevin began a partnership.
The partnership allows the Bootes to get away and build on their strengths. Terry, who earned an Agricultural Engineering degree, is good at record keeping..
Terry does the agronomy planning, feeding, AI breeding and herd health.
"Terry is cleaning the free-stall barn when I am doing the 5:30 milking in the morning," said Kevin, who has a farm operations degree from ISU. "Managing the parlor and calf care are my responsibility. I do all the upkeep of the machinery and farm buildings."
Donsons Farms has 140 cows that are milked twice a day. High school students are hired for the 4:30 p.m. milking. Kevin says he tries to hire from the two schools in the town so their schedules aren't always the same.
"When one graduates," he said. "They often have a buddy who wants the job. Boys will also just stop by and ask. At times I have called one of my 'post graduates' to come help if I need a milker to fill in on a night when they are all busy. The boys do their own scheduling, making sure someone is there to milk."
Heifers are kept as replacements and bulls are sold for breeding stock. Their father began selling bulls 45 years ago. At six months of age the bulls are moved to Terry's farm.
Their families are members of the American Reformed Church in Hull, Farm Bureau, Hull Coop and the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance. Terry is on the board of the Iowa State Dairy Association. Boote appreciates the help and camaraderie in the dairy profession.
"I can just give any one of them a call, and ask a question, they will give their honest opinion of how something has or has not worked out for them," he said.
Kevin Boote says there are several reasons to visit the farm June 16.
"If you always wanted to see a dairy farm, but never had the opportunity, this is your chance. It is just a good occasion to enjoy a morning on the farm and to see how this important industry operates."