Montgomery County Family Preserves Pasture and Traditions with Support from CSIF

07-07-2017 in Cattle

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – July 7, 2017 – Too many wet and muddy spring calving seasons on pasture motivated John McCarthy to explore the idea of calving under roof. In 2014, he contacted the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) for siting assistance with a monoslope calving barn; he wanted to ensure that the barn would be placed in the correct location to accommodate the long-term goals and growth of his family’s fourth-generation farm near Red Oak.

“The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was a big help in site selection and learning about the rules and regulations of confinement buildings,” said McCarthy.

An open house, co-sponsored by CSIF, was recently held at the McCarthy farm to celebrate the construction of his calving barn which was filled for the first time in December 2015. The event, which attracted over 200 farmers, neighbors and community members, also highlighted the benefits of calving under roof such as increased herd health and cattle comfort.

Right Fit for the Farm

For McCarthy, calving under roof was the right fit for growing his cow-calf operation which includes 19 paddocks he utilizes for rotational grazing. One of the benefits of building a monoslope calving barn was reducing the impact of inclement weather during calving season; another benefit was preserving pasture acres.

“Because of the barn, I’m no longer tearing up early season pasture or having to sacrifice a paddock,” said McCarthy. “I’ve increased my March to April grazing by about 100 acres.”

Since building his calving barn, McCarthy has also noted he is better equipped to monitor individual cow-calf health, address nutritional needs, take advantage of increased manure value and handle cows and calves using the working facility located on the west end of the barn.

“Cattle can be worked or bred no matter the weather conditions,” he said.

Keeping Tradition

In addition to preserving pasture ground, McCarthy says he built the barn with the next generation in mind. John’s son, Zachary, represents the fifth generation of the McCarthy family farm. He graduated from Montana State University in 2016 with a degree in range-land management. Although he currently works off the farm, the new monoslope barn has allowed him to maintain ownership in the cow herd.

“I tried to set this up so the next generation doesn’t have as many challenges,” said McCarthy. “You don’t have to be in the tractor seat to be a part of the farm.”

CSIF is a non-profit organization that assists livestock farmers who want help interpreting rules and regulations, guidance on good site locations for barns, counsel on enhancing neighbor relations and tips on how to protect the environment at no cost. For more information, call 1-800-932-2436 or visit

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock responsibly and successfully. It’s a joint partnership involving the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association.

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