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Open house shows benefits of calving under roof

Article cover photo
Dozens of area farmers gathered for an open house near Solon at the Mickey Machacek farm, organized by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers. (Photo: Heather Lilienthal/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Heather Lilienthal, ISA director of producer services

After slogging through another wet and muddy spring last year, Solon-area cattle farmer Mickey Machacek knew he needed to make a big decision.

“I was either going to get rid of the cows or put up a building for them,” he said.

He’d been looking into buildings and the benefits of calving under a roof and made the choice to keep the cows and raise a roof. On Oct. 12, the roof sheltered calves and dozens of area farmers who gathered for an open house organized by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF).

The Big Show’s Andy Petersen, center, interviews farmer Mickey Machacek, right, and Hedgewood Equipment President Kelly Daniels, left, at the CSIF open house. (Photo: Heather Lilienthal/Iowa Soybean Association)

Machacek worked with Kelly Daniels, president of Hedgewood Equipment, to construct an Accu-Steel cattle building that would hold 80 cow-calf pairs.

Daniels quickly connected Machacek with Kent Mowrer, CSIF field specialist. Mowrer assisted with the siting.

“It’s important to make sure we find the right place in regards to regulations and flood zones,” said Mowrer. Mowrer also worked closely with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and carefully reviewed and followed Johnson County regulations. In fact, a county supervisor had visited the facility earlier in the week and also attended the event.

The building also offers versatility and the opportunity to grow the operation. The building can accommodate up to 120 pairs or house fat cattle.

“After losing some pasture ground a few years ago, I needed to decrease my herd. This will help rebuild it and I might even consider going to spring and fall calving,” said Machacek. “The open house was something new for Machacek, but he understands CSIF’s goal of sharing information and opportunity with fellow farmers.

“I looked at these buildings myself for five years or so,” he said. “I want to continue to improve the operation to help with animal care and profitability.”

Lane Eads, eastern Iowa membership coordinator with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, said many cattlemen are interested in calving under roof. “It can be a good option from a land management or land shortage standpoint,” said Eads.

As the rain fell throughout the open house event, it was easy for area farmers to experience what calving under roof can offer when it comes to the weather. Machacek’s calves watched their visitors from the other side of the building.

“I was anxious to see how the calves would do inside and I brought them in a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “They seem to doing just fine.”

For more information about CSIF, visit

Contact Heather Lilienthal at

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