Boots In The Barn

Most beef and dairy operations are male-dominated, but more and more women are taking on managerial positions on their farms. This includes being responsible for monitoring animal health and milk quality. Iowa State University launched “Boots in the Barn,” a series of educational events that provide women with advanced education in beef or dairy farming.

Jennifer Bentley is an Extension dairy field specialist for Iowa State. She says the pilot program was designed to give women a chance to learn in a nonthreatening environment with hands-on opportunities, and the ability to ask questions.

"The first session we focused more on milk quality, so we had Dr. Leo Timms from ISU talk about milk quality, ways that we can improve it. We demonstrated some tools that they can use to evaluate milk quality," says Bentley. "He brought in an actual udder so we could dissect the udder and see inside, and see how the udder actually works. I think that really gave them a perspective of why they’re doing certain practices on their farm."

They talked about colostrum management, evaluating feed rations, and much more.

"Our second session focused on nutrition, first taking a look at why corn silage is important in the cow’s diet, how we process it and why harvesting practices are important," she says. "Then, also looking at how once we have it harvested, how we can monitor it to be feeding our cows."

Bentley says the women also got to practice delivering a full-size calf from a life-size model cow.

Learn more about Boots in the Barn