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Spring 2008

Six Loaders Lighten Work Load on Dairy Farm

Dependable Bobcat Machines Make Chores Easier

From the time the original loader was designed to solve a problem for a turkey farmer, the agricultural community has been loyal to the Bobcat® brand. Making work easier for generations of farm families was — and still is — the Bobcat way.

Glen Wilwerding began farming in central Minnesota in 1961. Within a few years he purchased his first Bobcat skid-steer loader, and like many early owners “couldn’t believe how you could maneuver around and clean a barn. Just like that, chores became easier.”

Today he and his sons — John, Jerry and Jim — milk 1,200 cows and have 1,200 head of young stock on their three farms near Freeport, Minn. It’s a big-time dairy operation where milking, calving and other chores go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “We milk for seven hours, spend an hour washing the parlor, then start the process over again,” says Wilwerding. “For maximum production, we milk three times a day.”

The Wilwerdings keep six Bobcat loaders busy. Two machines work around the clock in the main free-stall barn. One removes manure, the other handles bedding. There is a loader assigned to each of the other farms. Another — a two-speed S300 — does a variety of jobs where travel speed and lifting capability is important. The sixth loader is a backup machine.

Having a fleet of modern, up-to-date Bobcat equipment also helps the family hire and retain good employees.

Turkey Barn Problem Solved by First Loader

While the Wilwerding family relies on Bobcat loaders to ease the workload on their dairy farm, five decades earlier another Minnesota farmer was looking for an easier way to clean his turkey barns. And when he found it, it was the start of the fifty-year history of the Bobcat skid-steer loader.

Eddie Velo was frustuated by the amount of time it took laborers, pitchforks and wheelbarrows to clean his two-story barns. No available equipment could maneuver around the poles supporting the barns' second floor.

In the summer of 1956, Velo mentioned his delemma to Louis and Cyril Keller, who owned the local blacksmith shop. To address Velo's problem, the Kellers began thinking about a lightweight machine that could turn in its own length.

Local junk yards supplied the parts they needed: a caster wheel, two drive wheels, pulleys and control levers for both sides of the machine. The power came from a 5-horsepower engine with a rope starter. Reinforced bars from the Rothsay jail were fashioned into a crude manure fork attachment to loosen accumulatd manure. After Velo operated the machine for awhile, the Kellers took notes and went back to the drawing board. They developed a new, durable clutch-drive transmission and in February, 1957, the first loader was a success. They built six more - all for poultry farms.

In a letter to the Kellers the next year, Velo wrote: "In my operation, I consider this machine so valuable that I wouldn't sell it for any price."

If you are interested in learning more about Bobcat machines and attachments for the dairy and general agriculture markets, visit the market page.