Milking it

Third-grader Dana Hansen takes her turn “milking a cow” while her classmates watch and learn when members of the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance recently visited Spalding Catholic School in Alton to do a hands-on butter making activity and talk about what dairy cows eat. WIDA will hold a dairy open house June 12 at J&S Dairy near Maurice.

MAURICE—To celebrate National Dairy Month, dairy farmers across western Iowa are inviting the public to a family-friendly event at J&S Dairy near Maurice.

The 12th annual Dairy Open House will include a dairy farm tour, free food and kids’ activities 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12.

Parking is available at the Terrace View Event Center in Sioux Center with transportation provided to the farm.

The National Dairy Month Celebration is sponsored by the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance and the Midwest Dairy Association.

Visitors will tour J&S Dairy, including opportunities to view a robotic milking system. The unique milking system allows a cow to enter the robot when the cow wants to be milked.

Additionally, attendees will witness where cows are milked and where they are housed and fed, and learn about the role of milk and dairy products in a healthy diet.

Veterinarians, dairy nutritionists, dairy farmers and other experts will be available to answer questions.

There also will be information about crop production and conservation.

“We invite everyone to join us for a family-friendly evening on the farm to celebrate National Dairy Month and the role of dairy products in a healthy lifestyle,” said John Vander Waal, owner of J&S Dairy. “Great-tasting dairy products start with healthy, comfortable cows, and we look forward to showing how we care for the animals and the land we farm.”

Vander Waal began dairy farming in 1998 with his family. He and his wife, Sharon, broke ground on a new dairy in the summer of 2016.

They began milking 250 Holsteins with four Lely Astronaut robotic milking systems in December 2017. The machines allow the cows to freely enter the milking system to be milked throughout the entire day.

Following the National Dairy Month tours at J&S Dairy, guests will enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches, ice cream and milk from local dairy processors.

The open house will feature a Kids’ Fun Zone with games, activities and the chance to meet dairy calves.

In addition to dairy, children will have the opportunity to learn about other agricultural products from representatives of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, 4-H, Siouxland Ag in the Classroom, Iowa Corn and other groups.

Jessica Schmitt of Fort Atkinson, the Iowa Dairy Princess, also will be in attendance.

June, which is National Dairy Month, is a great opportunity to celebrate the efforts of Iowa’s dairy farmers as they deliver a wholesome and nutritious supply of milk and dairy products and make a significant contribution to the state’s economy and rural communities.

Dairy is the fifth-largest agricultural business in Iowa, generating $4 billion a year in economic activity from farming to dairy processing. There are about 1,100 dairy farms in the state, and about 98 percent of the state’s farms are family-owned.

For more information about the open house, visit or “Western Iowa Dairy Alliance” on Facebook, or contact 712-441-5308 or

The Western Iowa Dairy Alliance is a nonprofit organization working as an advocate for dairy producers and all those who support the industry. For more information, visit

The Midwest Dairy Association represents 7,000 dairy farm families to 38 million consumers across 10 Midwestern states. It works on behalf of dairy farmers to increase dairy sales, foster innovation and inspire consumer confidence in dairy products and practices.

The Midwest Dairy Council, an affiliate of the National Dairy Council, is the nutrition education division of the Midwest Dairy Association. The council is dedicated to dairy nutrition research and education. For more information, visit