Meet Jon Bansen – one of the six fantastic organic farmer finalists in our Grant a Farmer’s Wish Campaign. Get to know Jon and his family through their interview with Organic Valley and hear about their wish to install an innovative walk-through fly-trap designed to reduce cow stress.
(Plus meet all the other farmers and place your vote – every 150th new vote from today through next Friday at noon will be treated to coupons for free Stonyfield yogurt!)
Jon is a third generation dairyman who milks around 200 Jersey cows twice a day on his Oregon family farm, Double J Jerseys. He spent six years working for his father learning the dairy business and purchased his own farm in 1991. Jon began pasturing his herd on mostly grasses and clover 15 years ago. He uses an intensive, rotational grazing system in which the cows are grazed in three-acre paddocks, the electric borders of which are changed every 12 hours. Every 16 days the cows begin the rotation all over again. Research is a daily matter on his dairy farm. Jon is constantly monitoring cow feedback (milk production, health) to measure success of any new changes made to the dairy.
“Most people think Christmas is the best day of the year, but they’re wrong,” says Jon. “Best day of the year is the first day of spring, when the cows go back out to pasture.”
Jon wouldn’t dream of keeping his cows indoors year-round, as happens at confinement dairies nationwide. He must bring them in for winter, to guard the herd from bitter weather and the land from being stomped on when wet and fragile. But the day that the skies clear, Jon opens the gates.
For months afterwards he sleeps with his bedroom window open, listening for rain. “In springtime, we do a thing called ‘The Dance,’” he says. “We dance them outside, then dance them back in if the weather gets too bad.” It’s extra work—his father always just kept the herd in until spring was absolutely certain—but it’s worth it to Jon.“My approach is that whenever there’s grass growing, my cows will be grazing. That’s what they’re meant to do, after all. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Jon Bansen’s wish is to install a walk-through flytrap designed to vacuum flies off his cows. The greatest cow comfort problem for most organic dairies is the flies (especially during the warmest months of the summer.) Flies add stress to the cows, reducing production and milk quality. Cows that are not under fly stress stay spread out eating in the pasture for more hours a day, have lower somatic cell counts (higher quality milk), spread nutrients on the land more evenly, and produce more milk.
The innovative device Jon seeks has been developed and trialed by an entomologist at North Carolina State University. Jon hopes to purchase one to not only assist in providing relief to his own cows, but to also foster the potential for the traps to be produced in larger quantities and at lower costs – by both organic and conventional farmers – in the future.
Meet Jon on video, hear the stories of all of our finalists, and place a vote to help us grant wishes and support organic farming on our Facebook page! And don’t forget that every 150th new vote from today (2/18) through next Friday (2/25) at noon EST will be treated to coupons for free Stonyfield yogurt!)
Photo Copyright Anna Campbell for Organic Valley