ALMONTE — Allan and Donna Lowry, their son, Brad, and daughter, Leanna, operate Penlow Holsteins in Almonte.
They consider it an honour to stand among a fraternity of distinguished Canadian Holstein breeders to accept their first Master Breeder Shield and claim the recognition not only counts them among an elite group of Holstein breeders, but validates their efforts over the years to develop a herd of high quality cattle.
The Penlow prefix was created in 1956 when Allan’s parents, Bert and Dorothy, purchased and registered their first purebred animals. When Allan and Donna became partners in the operation in 1978, the herd became 100 per cent purebred Holsteins and the farm expanded to its current 650 acres. Allan and Donna have been full owners since 1994 and along with the help of their four children (Christa, Julie, Brad and Leanna), they have successfully grown their operation to include some of the best cattle in Lanark County and beyond.
Penlow Holsteins is a head-to-head tie-stall operation housing a total of 125 cows, 50 of which are milking. The family grows corn, soybeans and wheat on 400 acres and devotes the remaining 250 to hay and pasture. Their herd classifieds with 12 EX, 30 VG and 14 GP cows and their rolling herd average BCA is an impressive 225-226-225. Over the years, the Lowry’s have had nine All Canadian nominations (resulting in two All Canadians), 4 Reserve All Canadians and two Honourable Mentions.
Three main cow families in particular have contributed to this shield. Penlow Georgie Dragoon EX 3E 6* was a good brood cow with 5 Excellent daughters. Her ability to transmit show type daughters with phenomenal frames and longevity was remarkable and her genetics were used extensively within the herd, yielding 14 daughters, of which 85 per cent are Good Plus or better. One of her daughters, Georgette Outside, was twice All Canadian and three times Reserve All Canadian. Penlow Cindy Park EX-90-2E 5*was known for her ability to transmit a good balance of type, production and longevity and produced family members who went on to become excellent brood cows themselves. Penlow’s first excellent cow was Candy Fury Lad, a cow with a terrific frame and dairy strength who helped develop the Penlow herd from the ground up. Today, Penlow genetics can be found across Canada, the U.S. and South America.
The Lowry family is heavily involved in Lanark County’s agricultural landscape. In past years, Allan has been involved in the Lanark Federation of Agriculture, The Lanark Soil and Crop Association, The Lanark Holstein Club and was a 4-H leader in the county as well. Currently, he is a member of the Lanark Milk Producers Committee, a Director with Lanark Mutual Insurance and a volunteer with various church committees. Brad, who has been working on the farm full-time since graduating from OAC Guelph in 2002, is the Past President of the Lanark Holstein Club and is involved with the North Lanark Agricultural Society, the EOWQ Championship Show Committee and the EastGen Board as a delegate. He was also an Ontario Dairy Youth Award winner in 2011, enjoying an all-expenses paid trip to Madison to take in World Dairy Expo.
Outside the dairy industry, the family spends time collecting and restoring vintage snow machines, traveling, hiking and a participating in variety of sports. Eldest daughter, Christa, is a classical musician and Julie works as an elementary teacher. Brad and Leanna both work on the farm, with Leanna taking courses in print media and design at Algonquin College.
With the future of the dairy industry looking bright, the Lowrys plan to continue improving their herd and striving for a second shield. Their advice to others is choose good mentors and participate in as many shows as possible. Using proven sires and embryo transfers, they say, will help maximize results.