May 24, 2021 at 6:29 p.m.

Women in Dairy: Kailey Barlow

Charlotte, Iowa
Clinton County
380 cows

Family: I grew up in southern Kentucky, raising a few Ayrshire show cattle which is how my fiancé, Levi Banowetz, and I met. In 2013, at World Dairy Expo, Levi’s and my paths crossed as we were both exhibiting there. That year at Expo was the first blue medal I ever won in Madison. Dairy farming is sort of in my blood. My grandparents did it, my parents did it, and now I’m doing it. After attending the University of Kentucky and graduating with my Bachelor of Science in career and technical education, I moved to Charlotte, Iowa, where Levi and I reside. It’s kind of crazy to think how our paths crossed several years ago and to think about where we are now. We both have a love for taking care of cows; that’s what we’re passionate about, and we really couldn’t imagine living our lives any other way.
Tell us about your farm. We are milking about 350 Holsteins three times a day. We farm 600 crop acres of hay, corn and soybeans. It truly is a family run operation. Levi and I are the herdsmen.

What is the busiest time of day for you? Our mornings are definitely the busiest (although you never know when you’re going to be busy). Both Levi and I stick to a pretty normal daily routine. It’s best for both us and the cows. Three or four mornings a week, we do the milking shift. Besides that, we breed and tend to sick cows in the mornings. Each morning holds something different: vet checks, drying off cows, trimming hooves. To sum it up, mornings fill up fastest for us and then other things find their way into our schedules later in the day.

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? In my spare time, I enjoy playing with our goldendoodle, Sunny, and working with our show heifers. Lately, my extra time has been spent on wedding planning too. Most of our time off the farm is spent at cow shows either for ourselves or helping our friends, or spending time in Kentucky with my family.

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. I don’t know that there is one particular moment that stands out to me. However, a collaboration of moments has been memorable. It is so cool to look back and see how far this farm has come in the few years I have been here and how much I have grown as a person. Sometimes I can’t believe that this is what I do every day, but I am so grateful that it is.

What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? No doubt the best part of my job is the full circle. Sure, there are more jobs where people make more money, worry less, get more sleep, etc. But there is no job that is as rewarding as what I get to do every day and that leaves me with the biggest smile.

How do you stay connected with others in the industry? In today’s world, it’s a rather easy task to stay up to date. I try to stay informed on the latest between social media as well as mingling with others at various events between shows, webinars, etc.

Who is someone in the industry who has inspired you? I can think of several individuals who stand out in my mind that have inspired me. But daily, I think about the group of women out there doing exactly what I do, and they’re the ones who keep me going. All of us gals, working toward the same goal, is pretty cool.

If you could give a tour of your farm to a prominent woman in today’s society, who would it be? If I could give anyone a tour of our farm, I would choose a lifestyle influencer. Some of these social media influencers have millions of followers. It would be neat to show them what a day in our lives looks like. Not only would it be awesome to have people like that supporting our products versus alternatives, but it would be rewarding for them to see the work we put into such a wholesome product.

What is the best vacation you have ever taken? In 2015, I was able to attend International Dairy Week in Australia and The New Zealand Dairy Event as a representative from U.S. Ayrshire. That is a trip I will never forget.

What are some words you like to live by? I live by the fact that not everyone will always understand or appreciate what you do and that’s OK. A lot of people don’t fully understand why we do what we do, but it’s simple. We take things one day at a time working toward our goals. At the end of the day, other people’s opinions and thoughts don’t fuel my happiness or pay our bills, so why worry about it?


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