Walking the Walk: Animal Advocacy at Threemile Canyon Farms

Dr. Mike Paros is Threemile Canyon Farms’ Animal Welfare Advocate. It’s a title that could mean many things to many people. But for Dr. Paros, the definition of his role is simple, even if the job is not.

“My main and only focus is animal well-being,” he said.

The health and well-being of our 33,000-cow dairy herd is a top priority at Threemile Canyon Farms. That means each day, we strive to provide the absolute best care possible for each animal.

"My main and only focus is animal well-being."

Dr. Mike Paros

We ensure this care with a three-layered system. At one end is our Animal Welfare Committee, made up of team members who meet regularly to focus on and propagate animal welfare internally.

On the other end are annual visits by an independent, third-party auditor like Validus, to conduct comprehensive inspections and provide animal welfare reports to management.

In between is Dr. Paros, an independent veterinarian who has practiced large animal medicine since the early 1990s. He visits Threemile each month with the singular goal of taking the cows’ perspective and doing everything he can to help provide and inform their care.

During his visits, Dr. Paros monitors the cows with walkthroughs and by reviewing video and health records. He keeps up on the latest animal welfare science and research and uses this knowledge to consult with and advise staff, train team members, and help Threemile maintain a welfare program that goes beyond industry standards.

Dr. Paros visits Threemile Canyon Farms monthly and works with management continuously to bolster a culture of animal advocacy.

Threemile is not the only farm Paros works with, though its herd is by far the largest. From his variety of clientele, he sees the challenges and opportunities present in farming operations of all sizes.

For example, the most obvious challenge with large herds is maintaining an individual level of care for so many animals. But with that increased scale comes benefits like technology and investment in specialized expertise.

“We have one person whose job is to diagnose calf pneumonia and treat it,” Paros said of the Threemile staff. “We have a person whose only job is to monitor calving. We have full-time veterinarians and nutritionists. That kind of specialization in labor can offer better care.”

Indeed, animal welfare at Threemile is a teamwide and full-time effort. And though Paros visits the farm just once per month, he is in constant contact with management, a regular voice on the internal Animal Welfare Committee, and a champion of pushing team members to be their own animal advocates.

To learn more about animal advocacy at Threemile, watch Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council's video: Better Every Day Animal Care at Threemile Canyon Farms.