Dr. Les & Nancy Midla -- 2011 PA BQA Award Winners

Dr. Les & Nancy Midla, Marianna, Washington County were honored with the 2011 PA BQA Award at the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association (PCA) annual banquet on March 24.

Flat Stone Lick Farm is a seedstock operation, raising Polled Hereford cattle for more than 50 years. The business was started by Les's grandfather, continued by his father, and is now in the hands of Les and Nancy with their two adult children, Brendan and Kim, in line to continue the purebred business. In addition to selling breeding females and bulls, the Midlas have a small feedlot and freezer beef market that enables them to monitor both their beef genetics and their stockmanship. Today, the farm spans 500 acres, with 60 cows calving this year.

Early adopters of best management techniques, the Midlas administered cattle neck injections before it was a BQA best practice. When sending cattle to a sale in the Gettysburg area, more than 20 years ago, Nancy remembers that “we had to justify to potential buyers why there were lumps in our cattle’s neck,” she said. “Now, people are aware of neck injections and it’s an accepted practice promoted through the BQA program.”

Nancy also recalls the first BQA chute side training held at Flat Stone Lick Farm and the reaction of producers, in attendance, while viewing the necropsy of a euthanized calf that had received antibiotics and vaccines from a veterinarian a few days earlier. “Farmers were in awe of the damage those shots had done,” she said. “I think it put it all in perspective for them.”

Fellow producers also like visiting the Midla’s farm for their common sense, and inexpensive, approach to facility management. While Nancy notes their facilities aren’t fancy, “they help us handle livestock quietly and efficiently and people like it because they see that it works.”

The Midlas keep schedules of vaccinating and deworming which they term, "The Life of a Bovine.” “From pre-natal through calving, weaning, yearling and all stages of breeding and gestation, we have worked out, in conjunction with our veterinarian what is optimum to administer, when to administer, and how to administer, with all protocols in accordance with BQA guidelines,” Nancy said. The cattle also are maintained in a stress-free environment, establishing comfort for the animals, including fly control.

Those practices result in associated input costs that are more than balanced by the virtual elimination of calf scours, pink-eye, respiratory disease, and other common diseases, plus a high weaning percentage of cows exposed. The Midlas test for BVD, TB, Brucellosis, and Johnes, annually, to maintain a healthy herd and provide a wholesome, dependable product.

Involved in several cattle organizations, including the PA Hereford Association and the Washington County Cattlemen, the Midlas continually remind their fellow producers about the benefits of BQA. “We are all part of the food industry chain. We need to do what’s best for the animals and ultimately, that’s what’s best for our consumers,” Nancy said. “BQA has a wealth of information - the workshops and training is readily available to help both new, and experienced, beef farmers become better managers.”

Nancy also previously served on the PA Beef Council Board of Directors and represented Pennsylvania at the annual beef checkoff meetings, giving her additional training to advocate for beef. The farm has hosted tours for government officials, school children, and teachers.

In addition to beef farmer, Les also is a dentist. “It’s an interesting mix,” explained Nancy. She said that the two professions complement each other because they are so different.  And it’s not unusual for Les to talk beef with his patients – or his fellow dentists!

Honored to be named this year’s BQA award recipient, Nancy says it validates what she and Les having been trying to do with their cattle on Flat Stone Lick farm for many years. “It’s nice to be recognized for our efforts,” she said. “The more visibility for the importance of BQA on our farms, the better.”

For more information about the BQA program, including upcoming trainings as mentioned in this article, visit www.pa-bqa.org or contact Nichole Hockenberry at 1-888-4BEEFPA.