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Pa. dairy realizes benefits of Dairy Beef Quality Assurance

Chase DeCoite Published on 11 June 2015

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Oregon Dairy Farm LLC in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is the 2015 Dairy Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Award winner.

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Oregon Dairy Farm is an impressive example of best practices in dairy production as well as a model of how dairy producers can help bolster consumer confidence by producing high-quality beef from dairy cattle.

Through advocacy and animal care efforts, Oregon Dairy Farm shows that dairy animals are dual-purpose, producing both wholesome milk and high-quality beef. The farm is owned through a family partnership among George Hurst, his son Chad, and his daughter and son-in-law, Maria and Tim Forry. George is general manager of the farm, while Tim is responsible for the cows and youngstock, and Chad is responsible for the crops.

The family believes that a healthy and comfortable cow will be most productive and therefore most profitable, both while milking and upon leaving the herd.

One of the goals of Oregon Dairy Farm is to maintain or rehabilitate cows to ensure they are in excellent body condition when they are sold for beef. They strive to make each cow the best she can be in milk production but recognize that selling her sooner rather than later – and in appropriate body condition – can optimize the situation of selling a quality cull cow to produce quality beef.

Stephen Foulke, DVM, herd veterinarian for Oregon Dairy Farm, recognizes that the family has “strived to be a leader in the industry, a leader in the community and a leader in both milk and beef quality.

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“They work on management of the animal to reduce the incidence of disease, necessitating less antibiotic use and less carcass damage, and creating a better carcass,” says Foulke.

Dairy BQA is a national program funded by the Beef Checkoff Program that works to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices which assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms.

The Dairy BQA program has helped Oregon Dairy Farm appreciate the value of their cull cows and helped them to ensure that they are selling healthy, high-quality cows. Their performance in the program helped secure the 2015 honors.

Since becoming Dairy BQA-certified, it is farm standard to only use antibiotics and vaccines that can be injected subcutaneously to eliminate the likelihood of injection-site lesions and carcass blemishes.

“We encourage others to get Dairy BQA-certified because it raises our awareness of all the little things on the farm dairy producers can do to ensure high-quality beef and increase consumer confidence,” says Tim Forry.

Not only has Oregon Dairy Farm recognized the benefits of Dairy BQA for producing high-quality beef products, but they have translated these principles to enhance their milk production and quality.

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From 2000 to 2013, the farm has increased their annual rolling herd average from 20,000 pounds to 26,000 pounds. This was accomplished through continuous improvement and constant evaluation of on-farm practices that have led to changes in facilities and operations.One example of a noticeable improvement can be traced to the installation of fans over feed alleys and beds as well as a sprinkler system over feedbunks and in the holding pen that leads to the milking parlor.

By participating in industry programs like Dairy BQA, Oregon Dairy Farm has made a commitment to continuous improvement and seen long-term benefits to their bottom line and the care of their animals.

“The Forrys’ commitment to animal care and their passion for dairy sustainability is unparalleled. It is exciting to see a family that speaks with such passion and dedication to the care of their animals and the stewardship of their land,” says John Frey, executive director of the Center of Dairy Excellence.

The 900-acre operation currently grows all of the forages used to feed their 500 milking cows and 500 replacements. Additionally, Oregon Dairy Farm operates a methane digester and compost facility on-site.

While the dairy operations alone are impressive, the family also runs Oregon Dairy, a family-friendly supermarket, 120-seat restaurant, gift shop and award-winning bakery all on their working farm.

Each June, Oregon Dairy Farm hosts Family Farm Days, a three-day event that is attended by more than 14,000 people. Visitors get a tractor-and-wagon ride around the farm for a tour and experience various educational opportunities to understand more about agriculture.

Family Farm Days is truly a community event planned by staff involved in the dairy as well as the family restaurant and supermarket. Staff and volunteers from the Lancaster County Ag Council assist in planning the event. From April through October, Oregon Dairy Farm hosts school tours and educates approximately 2,000 students to help them understand where their milk and meat come from.

“In the heart of a hustling, bustling area, you will find Oregon Dairy Farm engaging hundreds of consumers every day,” says Bridget Bingham, executive director of Pennsylvania Beef Council.

The vision of Oregon Dairy Farm explains their commitment to continuous improvement and Dairy BQA: “We will continue to grow through innovation, collaboration and the use of progressive practices aiming to contribute to a positive image for the agricultural community.

Oregon Dairy Farm lives out this mission each and every day through exemplary animal care and by engaging the public in tours and experiences that increase consumer confidence in dairy and beef products.” PD

For more information on the certification process for the Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Program, visit the website .

  • Chase DeCoite

  • Manager
  • Beef Quality Assurance
  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

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