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By Ellen Bombela, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service
The suburbs of Chicago isn’t where you expect a dairy farmer to grow up, but for Ben Butikofer experiences outside the city drew him into the dairy industry.
Butikofer, a junior in dairy science at Iowa State University, first got interested in working on a dairy farm because of his grandparents. They had a farm in Iowa where he would help whenever he visited. Once his interest in dairy farming started, it never stopped.
Butikofer started working at the Iowa State Dairy Farm in the fall of his freshman year. When he first started at the dairy farm, he would help with milking, moving cows and operating a skid loader. Butikofer wanted to take his work to the next level, so he decided to take a course last summer to learn how to breed cows.
Although he has some tasks that he does daily, Butikofer’s other activities on the farm vary from day-to-day.
“At 5 a.m. we start feeding cows. That usually takes a few hours, and then I move on to either fixing things on the farm, milking or breeding cows,” Butikofer said. “It really just depends on the day.”
This month Butikofer has been especially busy since June is dairy month. Butikofer helped out at the Dairy Farm’s open house on June 8. He was in charge of greeting guests as they arrived and teaching them about the milking parlor. Open house attendees enjoyed tours, free dairy products and educational displays. Butikofer thinks the open house is an eye-opening experience for visitors.
“There is a disconnect between consumers and the products they are buying,” Butikofer said. “The open house gives them an inside look at where the products are coming from, and hopefully gives them a better appreciation for dairy farmers.”
Last summer Butikofer gained some farming experience outside of the dairy farm.
“I worked at a family farm in Wisconsin,” Butikofer said. “A girl that is in the Dairy Science Club had a job opportunity and wasn’t going to be able to help out on her family farm, so I went up there and decided to help out.”
The experiences at the dairy farm, the family farm in Wisconsin and his grandparents’ farm in Iowa have given Butikofer a well-rounded dairy farming experience. His goal is to work in the industry for a few years and eventually either farm with his uncles and grandpa or own a farm of his own.