Two Pennsylvania producers recently received national Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) awards at the 2016 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) annual meeting in San Diego, CA.
Frank Stotzfus, Masonic Village Farm, was honored with the checkoff’s annual Cow-Calf Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) award and Reid and Diane Hoover, Brook-Corner, LLC received the Dairy Beef Quality Assurance (DBQA) award. The award program recognizes outstanding beef and dairy producers from across the country who incorporate BQA principles as part of their operation’s day-to-day activities. Since the award program began, six Pennsylvania producers now have received these prestigious national BQA honors, including four previous winners: Phoebe Bitler (Vista Grande Farm), John and Judy Ligo (LiTerra Farm), Logan Bower (Pleasant View Farms) and Tim and Maria Forry (Oregon Dairy Farm, LLC).
Frank Stoltzfus, Masonic Village Farm
Masonic Village Farm raises 180 cow/calf pairs, of which 90 are purebred Shorthorn cattle and 90 are crossbred Shorthorn/Maine/Angus cattle. Their Shorthorn herd is nationally lauded for both performance and success in the show circuit. In addition, the Masonic Village Farm finishes approximately 600 feedlot steers each year and farms 600 acres with 200+ acres of corn, 80 acres of soybeans, 140 acres of hay/pasture, and 140 acres of permanent pasture.
Stoltzfus and his team diligently monitor and improve cattle care, in partnership with their veterinarian. Following BQA guidelines, they annually analyze their vaccine protocols with their veterinarian, deciding which vaccines to continue or eliminate, and if additional vaccines are needed.
Cull cows join the feedlot for a minimum of 60 days prior to marketing, to increase both beef quality and their economic value. Implementing the BQA practice can add $300-$400 of value for $75-$100 worth of feed, netting $200-$325 income per head and yielding a better consumer beef product.
Masonic Village is the first feedyard in Pennsylvania to complete NCBA’s National Feedyard Assessment. The assessment is a practical on-site educational tool that helps Stoltzfus evaluate his team’s progress and also set goals for systematic improvement.
Reid & Diane Hoover, Brook-Corner, LLC
Owned by Reid and Diane Hoover, and their son, Brad, Brook-Corner is a 130-acre Dairy of Distinction farm with approximately 340 registered Holsteins and 400 young stock animals. Through a cropping partnership with Reid’s brother and nephew, Brook-Corner operates an additional 500 acres of primarily corn, soybeans, grass hay and a small amount of barley.
Brad serves as the herdsman for the dairy and oversees the raising of replacement heifers. Reid focuses on feeding rations and the overall managing of the farm and crops. Diane cares for the calves and is responsible for bookkeeping duties.
In 2012, the family modernized their existing tie-stall barn, building a new milking parlor and free-stall barn to accommodate their growing herd. New barn construction allowed the Hoovers to focus on cow comfort and, ultimately, increase their DHIA rolling herd average from 23,000 pounds to the current 26,000 pounds per cow.
As certified DBQA producers, the Hoovers implement the following BQA best management practices on their dairy:
- Detailed records and protocols are kept and stored for a minimum of two years.
- Protocols are reviewed and improved with guidance from their veterinarian through a valid VCPR (Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship).
- Quality feed is provided to the cows and calves daily along with fresh water.
- A “vet” pen was established, where the milking cows can be separated from the herd and safely retained to ensure proper care.
- Improvements in facilities and technique to more easily move cattle from the calving barn to the milking barn with minimal stress.
- A hoof trimming protocol to schedule cattle at greater frequency, reducing lameness throughout the herd.
- In addition to their free-stalls, they have a bedded-pack barn where cattle with health issues are housed. This allows them time to heal and/or regain their strength before returning to the free-stalls with the rest of the cows; it’s located in close proximity to the milking parlor to make that move as low stress as possible.
- The farm has had a strong adherence to vaccinations, regular herd health checks and careful cattle handling all to keep their herd healthy.
- Both the Hoovers and their employees are taught to recognize symptoms before they become problems.
“These Pennsylvania producers illustrate that practicing BQA principles can make a difference in cow health and comfort, and business profitability,” says Nichole Hockenberry, BQA Director, PA Beef Council. “They make BQA a priority on the farm to provide a quality life for their cattle and, ultimately, safe, delicious beef for families’ dinner plates.”