LPGE graduate finds cattle showing niche with Iowa’s Sullivan Farms

Nick Zastrow uses his experience with junior cattle showing in his work for Sullivan Farms of Dunlap, Iowa. He is shown above with “Sweet Cheeks” at the Minnesota State Fair in 2011.
Nick Zastrow uses his experience with junior cattle showing in his work for Sullivan Farms of Dunlap, Iowa. He is shown above with “Sweet Cheeks” at the Minnesota State Fair in 2011.

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer


Nick Zastrow of Long Prairie started in the world of cattle showing at age 9, introduced by friends. He became involved in 4-H showing and later, FFA.

“Once I could drive, I went to shows on my own,” he said.

His experiences began reaping larger rewards in 2011, when he competed in his first Salers Junior National Show in Brookings, S.D. with Sweet Cheeks. He took sixth place in the category, “Heifers, Summer Calves, Calved in or after April 2010.”

Nick’s dad, Joe, is in a dairy farm partnership with Nick’s uncles, Roger, Wally and Tom. Joe and his family raise purebred Salers cattle, a breed which originated in France. Salers are known for their longevity, calving ease and marbeling. The breed is similar to Angus.

The Zastrows have a herd of about 60 cattle. They raise seven to 10 bulls every year to sell for breeding. They also raise replacement heifers and cows to sell at market.

They grow soybean and corn as cash crops, and grow hay, corn and oats to feed the cattle.

In 2012, at the Salers Junior Nationals in DuQuoin, Ill., Nick won overall senior salesperson, an award that takes into consideration showmanship, team marketing, knowledge and fitting.

“My goal going into that competition was to win overall senior showman,” Nick said. “I honestly didn’t think I had a chance, but I was going to try.”

At a Stock Show University fitting clinic in Shakopee around that time, Nick met Roger Sullivan of Sullivan Farms in Dunlap, Iowa. Roger encouraged Nick to attend the Shorthorn Junior National Show in Nebraska in June 2012, where he could meet Roger’s brother and the owner of the farm, John Sullivan.

“They thought I was good and asked me to work for them at the Maternal Legends fall sale,” Nick said. “They sell 160 head of cattle every year.”

During Nick’s 2012-2013 senior year at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (LPGE) High School, he worked for Sullivan Farms at the American Royal Show in Kansas City, Mo. in fall 2012. A few weeks later he went with Sullivan Farms to Louisville, Ky. to the North American International Livestock Expo.

In January, he went to Denver with the Sullivans for the National Western Stock Show. In March, it was the No Bull Show in Martell, Neb.

In late May, shortly after graduating, he went to Iowa to work for Sullivan Farms for the summer.

“They want me to stay after summer, but that is up in the air,” said Nick.

Nick’s duties include taking care of halter-breaking sale calves and washing them every day.

“There are 80 calves broken now and 70 to 80 more to break,” he said. “When they need me, I go to the show barn. Right now we’re getting ready for a national show in Des Moines, Iowa.”

Nick is the third of four children. His eldest brother, Mitch, is in a pharmacy program. Tim showed cattle for three or four years and now works on the farm. Madelyn is in high school and is very involved in sports.

Joe Zastrow described his main contribution to his son’s cattle showing experiences. “I just supplied him with the cattle and paid the bills,” said Joe.

Nick doesn’t have any specific plans for school, but knows he wants to do something agricultural.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll go in 2014, but I don’t want to waste time and money if I don’t know what to do yet,” he said. “I love my job. The people down there are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and we have a lot of fun. I can save money for college.”

Nick has some long-term thoughts about possibly taking over the family farm, started by his grandpa, Don Zastrow.

“If I wanted to and I worked at it …” Nick said. “And I could see Tim maybe being a part-owner.”

Right now, Nick is thoroughly enjoying being right where he is.

“I like being in the show barn. There are some show cattle worth hundreds of thousands,” he said. “A Hereford bull recently sold in Utah for about $600,000, a world record.”