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New Ideas Allow Iowa Family to Carry on Dairy Farming Tradition

September 2015 | Iowa | 0 comments

Maassen Family

For five generations, members of the Maassen family have been raising animals and crops on land near Maurice, Iowa. Although the farm looks very different now than when Lee Maassen’s great-grandfather began farming in the early 1900s, the family’s focus on caring for their cows, people and the environment has stayed constant over the decades. 

Today, Maassen Dairy is owned and managed by Lee and his sons Aaron, Adam and Stefan. The family recently built a new milking parlor and expanded their barns to milk about 1,200 cows. They also raise all the calves born on the farm and grow crops on about 1,000 acres. The Maassens have adopted new technologies and management practices over the years to make their cows more comfortable and make the farm safer and more efficient for themselves and employees.

From new barn designs in the 1980s that allowed more space for cows, better access to feed and curtains for airflow, to today’s sophisticated lagoon system that allows the dairy to filter solids from manure so it can be used as fertilizer for crops, every new step helps their farm be more productive and sustainable.

“Each time we looked at building, expanding or making changes to the farm, we spent a lot of time researching new ideas and tried to put the best of those new practices to work here,” said Lee.

Maassen Dairy is also part of a statewide research program in Iowa to study cover crops and management practices to protect the state’s watersheds. They are working with local agronomists, state officials and researchers to plant a 20 acre research plot to help identify best practices to share with other farmers.

“We’re excited to be part of programs that are helping to improve our farming practices today and preserve the land for future generations,” said Lee.  This focus on sustainability will ensure that any of Lee and Emily Maassen’s nine grandchildren will have the opportunity to be the sixth generation of dairy farmers.

The Maassens also recognize their commitment to stewardship goes beyond their farm. It is essential for the consumers who purchase milk and dairy foods for their families to have confidence in where their milk comes from and how it is produced.

“Sustainability is a partnership between me as a dairy farmer and with the person who is buying the products from the store,” said Aaron Maassen. “It is about conserving what we have and not being wasteful.”

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