Logan Bower -- 2011 PA Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Award Winner
Logan Bower, Pleasant View Farms, received the 2011 Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Award from the PA Beef Council on March 24, at the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting. During this June Dairy Month, we shine the Quality Care Matters’ spotlight on Bower, and the practices that make him a leader in dairy animal care.
Pleasant View Farms, Blain, Perry County, is comprised of 550 milk cows which produce in excess of 13 million pounds of milk annually. Bower raises 550 herd replacements to support the milking herd. The forage needs for the 1,100 head of dairy animals are raised on 750 acres of cropland of which 150 are owned and 600 are rented. The current crop rotation consists of 450 acres of corn for silage, 100 acres of alfalfa hay, 50 acres of small grain and 150 acres in grass and pasture.
Bower embarked on two expansion projects, since purchasing the farm from his parents in 1997. In addition to boosting cow numbers, the expansion allowed Pleasant View Farms to enhance cow comfort by replacing older, smaller free stalls with larger, better designed stalls with a soft surface for the cows to rest. He also constructed housing which allowed for grouping of animals according to their needs, during different stages of their lactation. A new transition barn was built in 2000 which gave Bower’s close up dry cows a better environment to prepare for calving and transition into the milking herd. Pleasant View Farms continues to implement management changes with the goal of enhancing cow comfort such as feed bunk sprinklers and fans, to keep cows cool in the summer heat.
Prior to the expansions, the herd average was approximately 18,000 pounds per cow. With the improvements to cow comfort, feeding and nutrition, and careful attention to forage quality, the herd average, at Pleasant View Farms, now exceeds 25,000 pounds per cow.
In addition to the expansion project, Bower credits two changes with impacting animal care and quality assurance at his farm – proper injection sites and low stress cattle handling. “We are consciously concerned about where we give injections,” Bower said. “I’ve visited Cargill Wyalusing and I’ve witnessed what improper injections can do to the meat.” He says he’s “become much more aware of the consequences and more discriminate about where we give shots.”
As for cattle handling, Bower thinks dairy stockmanship is more than merely “getting the cows.” “It’s positioning yourself to help the cows get where they need to go; there’s a low stress way to help cows handle everyday routines,” he explained. Bower learned many of his cattle handling techniques from Bud Williams, “an amazing Texas cowboy, who can really work and handle cows.” Over the course of a busy day, Bower said that he thinks dairymen can become so focused on ventilation, flooring, bedding and feed rations, “we can forget about the cow herself and how we handle her.”
Bower also was an early leader in dairy quality assurance in Pennsylvania, explaining that he “was in the right place, at the right time.” Participating in many producer organizations, including the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania (PDMP), the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) and the Pennsylvania Beef Council, Bower realized that all three organizations were concerned about animal care guidelines. “It was a no brainer to see what could happen, and it all fell together,” he said. Bower connected Paul Slayton, PA Beef Council executive director, with the dairy leaders working on National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative, and together, with industry partners, they developed a new manual for dairy farmers called Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA). Bower hosted the first revamped DACQA seminar at his farm on October 15, 2008.
“I was surprised at the attendance at that meeting,” Logan recalls. “We had 15 – 20 dairymen, including my neighbors. In the dairy industry, we are usually skeptical, when we hold another program and ask farmers to change practices,” he said. “I think the animal welfare issue is flying under the radar, sub-clinical, but at any moment, it can become clinical. When it does, we have to be prepared with programs such as DACQA.”
In reflecting on Bower’s quality assurance collaboration between the beef and dairy industry, Slayton said, “Logan Bower is a great industry leader and was blessed with the vision to see where the industry needed to go – ahead of time.”
“Logan knew DACQA was necessary, that the dairy farm was in the crosshairs of the animal activists long before producers realized it,” Slayton continued. “A best management practice quality assurance program was of paramount importance to educate and equip every producer with the tools to enhance the value of the market dairy cow prior to slaughter. He was the right leader, at the right time,” he noted.
Bower is a humble award recipient. “If you are going to promote a program, you better start with yourself. Set the example, and others will follow,” said Bower.