The Cowell Family -- Multigenerational Farming at its Best
Frosty Springs Farm may have only started as a small herd on 47 acres in 1974, but since then it’s has grown into a successful cow-calf and seed stock operation. James and Billie Cowell, of Waynesburg, PA, begin their herd with Hereford cattle, which were later crossed with Simmental. From there, the crossbred cattle herd was sold in 1985, and some purebred Simmental cows were purchased for the Cowell’s daughters, Jamie and Alissa, to show in 4-H and junior shows until 2002.
As the girls left for college, James and Billie, third generation farmers, expanded their herd to more than 60 cow-calf pairs on 500 acres, while still both maintaining off the farm jobs. Frosty Springs Farm then began selling freezer beef to more than 40 buyers across three states in 2006. The couple wouldn’t have it any other way saying, “There is nothing better than sitting on the front porch on a cool spring evening watching the calves play in the pastures.” Daughter Alissa, and husband Chris Mytar, travel to the farm frequently to help out and hope to move their family there someday to join her parents in the operation.
The Cowell’s do their best to keep their cattle healthy and productive. Each and every day time is devoted to observing cattle, along with checking for pasture growth, salt, mineral and water availability. The farm also works to control internal and external parasites with cattle rubs covered in fly spray. Cattle and calves are also protected from coyotes and other wildlife by the use of donkeys on the farm.
Being good stewards of the land is also a top priority of the Cowell’s. Frosty Springs Farm plants no-till crops to decrease soil erosion, fences off stream banks to preserve water quality, rotationally grazes cattle in the spring, summer and fall months, and only makes use of heavy feeding facilities to finish feeder cattle, as protection for cattle from weather or during calving season. This Certified Accredited herd also holds biosecurity at the highest level. The Cowell’s understand the need to reduce the potential of introducing new diseases to their herd and take the necessary precautions to keep the public and their herd safe. Bllie also works hard to keep detailed records with all important information about birth, vaccinations, medications and more.
The Cowell’s see some great opportunities in the future for their business to sell great tasting, safe and healthy beef products to their consumers when following Beef Quality Assurance and Best Management Practices. They also look forward to showing their consumers that beef is a safe and nutritious food.
Yet, James, Billie and daughter, Alissa, also see challenges which may lie ahead. The family acknowledges that their surrounding area experiences water quality issues due to gas well fracking, causing contaminated spring water for their cattle. The rise of misconceptions surrounding antibiotic use also presents difficulty when communicating to consumers. The Cowell’s would like consumers to understand that “the use of antibiotics in the beef industry is one of the critical tools in preventing the spread of disease and maintaining a healthy herd.”
Even though they foresee these challenges ahead, Frosty Springs Farm wants consumers to know that they enjoy every moment they can spend on the farm and take pride in caring for their animals. The family holds the cattle management practices from their BQA training in the highest regards to produce safe, quality beef for their customers.
Both Billie and James are very involved in community organizations along with all the work at the farm. From advising Environthon high school teams and allowing FFA judging contests on their farm, to hosting Waynesburg University students to promote BQA and teaching how livestock affects the environment, they sure are a busy bunch! In the past, the farm has hosted the PA Cattlemen’s Field Day to address an array of topics the industry faces from forward contracting, direct marketing, capitalizing on export marketing and much more. The farm has been awarded a number of awards throughout their years of operation. Most recently, in 2012, they received the PA Cattlemen Special Appreciation Award and the Honorary West Greene Chapter FFA Degree. They are also involved with the following groups: Greene County Conservation Board, American & PA Simmental Associations, Greene County Farm Bureau, PA and National Cattlemen’s organizations, Project Grass Award and PA Livestock Association.
For more information, visit the farm’s website at www.frostyspringsfarm.com