Iowa ranks third among the states in the value of the livestock and livestock products, behind only Texas and California. A significant share of all the hogs marketed in the United States come from Iowa. Many of the cattle, hogs, and sheep processed in Sioux City and other Iowa slaughterhouses were originally shipped to the state from the West and Southwest. Iowa farmers fatten and finish the animals, often on a corn-rich diet, before sending them to market. Dairy cows are also raised on many farms. Iowa ranks among the leading milk-producing states. Most of the milk is used in making butter, cream, and dried milk; only a small fraction of the total is sold fresh or used in making cheese. Eggs, turkeys, and chickens are produced on many farms, some of which specialize in raising poultry.
A pattern of farming found in Iowa, as in much of the Corn Belt, is the crop-and-livestock system. In this system, the production of corn and other crops is used mainly to fatten cattle and hogs for market. While both crops and livestock are raised on farms using this system, revenues are derived largely from the sale of the fattened livestock rather than from the sale of cash crops. However, there are many variations to this system in Iowa. The combinations of livestock and crops differ from place to place and may also change from year to year. There are also many farms devoted exclusively to the production of either livestock or crops. The reasons for these variations are complex and are based on both environmental and economic factors. On the flat, fertile Iowa Prairie, farmers cultivate corn, soybeans, and other field crops. In the hilly parts of southern Iowa, much of the land is used for pasturing beef cattle and for raising hay. Dairy farming predominates in the rugged Driftless section, the only area of the state that is considered to lie outside the Corn Belt. "Iowa" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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