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Owners of 3 Flags Dairy Focus on Cow/Calf Housing, Comfort

06 June 2008

US - When Wytse and Belinda Aalbers built 3 Flags Dairy near Primghar, Iowa, they focused on creating calf and cow housing that would decrease labor and increase cow comfort.

The 400-cow dairy, built in 2006, is designed so that it can be operated by the Aalberses and one employee per shift. Calves at 3 Flags Dairy are housed together and fed automatically four times a day, while their mothers are housed in freestall barns with slatted floors.

“The more pounds of milk per employee that you can produce, the more efficient you are. If it were not for our setup, we would need more employees to get the work done,” said Aalbers, 39, who grew up on a dairy farm in the Netherlands.

This is the second dairy that the couple has owned. They built their first dairy in Alberta, Canada, in 1996.

“I was never given the opportunity to purchase my own farm in the Netherlands because my dad was too young and not ready to retire,” said Aalbers, who first moved to Canada at 18 as an exchange student and then moved back when he was 20. “My dad and my father-in-law helped us finance our first dairy farm.”

Aalbers was 25 and his wife 22 when they built their first 100-cow dairy. After operating their dairy in Canada for 10 years the Aalberses were up for another challenge - they wanted to build a larger dairy. This time, Primghar was their location of choice.

“We chose this specific area because of the church and private school. Our religion is very important to us,” Aalbers said. “That, in combination with the ability to run a dairy. O'Brien County has a lot of cropland. It is relatively easy to purchase feed and get rid of manure and still has good milk marketing ability.”

The Aalberses and their three children were among the first families to immigrate to Iowa under the EB-5 investment visa. This visa, according to Aalbers, was developed to bring investment and jobs to rural communities.

In order to qualify, he had to prove that through their investment in 3 Flags Dairy they would bring 10 jobs to the community. In return, he, his wife and their children receive Green Cards which are permanent resident cards.

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Source: Tristateneighbor


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