Des Moines Register 11-28-07

Des Moines Register
After years of planning, mooooving day arrives for ISU cattle
Like every day of her working life, Tuesday started early for No. 2301.
The dairy cow at the Iowa State University research farm in Ankeny was in the
milking room by 5 a.m. and back in the raw winter air by 5:15 a.m.
A creature of habit, she is easily stressed by breaks in routine. But on this day,
instead of heading to breakfast in her familiar barn, her life was suddenly
"Come on, girls. It's just me," said ISU animal science professor Dan Morrical,
one of several people shepherding No. 2301 and her anxious herdmates toward
a cattle trailer and an idling truck.
"They're not used to going this way," he said.
No. 2301 was one of the 730 dairy cows that were moved Monday and Tuesday
to ISU's new research farm south of Ames, making way for new development in
The move means more stress for the cows in the short term, but also means
brand-new barns and a more-spacious, more-efficient milking room.
The cows were udderly unaware of the symbolic significance of their longawaited move.
Moving day was the culmination of years of talk, millions of dollars changing
hands and an act of the state Legislature.
University officials considered selling the land as early as 1985 but hesitated for
fear that the money, which would go to the state's general fund, would be lost to
other programs. A bill from the Legislature in 2002 allowed the university to sell
the land and keep the money.
The university used all of the roughly $21 million it netted from selling the Ankeny
land to local developer Dennis Albaugh to purchase property and create the new
farm on 887 acres three miles south of ISU's campus.
For Joe Detrick, manager of the dairy farm, the move meant a lot of planning.
He said he was basically running two operations, the stress of which was only
compounded when the moving day was pushed back a couple of times.
Detrick said he would be focusing on the cows' comfort this week, making sure
the transition goes as smoothly as possible. "It's all about the cows," he said.
On Tuesday morning, the concrete floors of the expansive new barns looked
especially clean, compared with the old barns in Ankeny.
"You guys ready for cows?" Morrical shouted to the workers waiting to unload the
first trailer load.
"Come on, baby. That's a girl," he bantered as the cattle took their first steps into
their new home. "They're going, 'Where's the food? Where's the water?' "
Then, as one of the cows got comfortable enough to relieve herself on the new
floor, Morrical said, "Whoop. The barn is christened."
Reporter Gunnar Olson can be reached at (515) 284-8039 or
[email protected]