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Spring 2012

In the heart of agriculture country … turkeys, grain and a Bobcat skid-steer loader

North central Iowa farm family appreciates the ongoing compact equipment improvements, helping it succeed as it reaches its third generation.

Dale Jans (center) with his son Kevin and daughter Kelly.

Dale Jans (center) with his son Kevin and daughter Kelly.

Farming in north central Iowa is a way of life for the Jans family. Dale Jans and his wife Jane live in Stanhope, amidst some of Iowa’s most fertile farm land. The Jans family operates a successful grain and livestock business, and their son Kevin is an Iowa State graduate and third-generation farmer. Together the father and son have a partnership that carries on the tradition of family farms in Iowa.

60 years of farming
Dale Jans grew up in the agriculture industry. His father started farming in the 1950s, and he joined him in the 1970s. “I think we got our first turkeys when I was 5 years old,” Dale says. “We went from raising them on the range in a clover and alfalfa field. We started small. Now we raise several thousand turkeys at once in confinement buildings that range from 60 to 76 feet wide, and some are as long as 500 feet. I’ve always been interested in livestock, and turkeys have been the best fit for our operation. That’s where the Bobcat loader is used for cleaning buildings, loading manure spreaders, clearing snow and all sorts of things connected with raising turkeys.”

Bobcat S750 helps Dale Jans
haul manure to his spreader.

Bobcat S750 helps Dale Jans haul manure to his spreader.

In the mid ’90s, Dale switched from another make of skid-steer loader to a Bobcat model. His primary reason for doing so was because he needed more lift height.

“That Bobcat loader gave me an additional 13 or 14 inches of lift height, which we needed for loading manure spreaders,” he says. That extra lift height enabled Dale to easily empty buckets of manure into the spreader.

Today Dale owns an M-Series S750 skid-steer loader — purchased from Bobcat of Ames — that he says has many notable improvements that affect his day-to-day farming responsibilities. Dale says visibility and the cab-forward design are two of the remarkable differences.

“Being able to see the cutting edges on the front part of the bucket is important — so is side visibility, which is much improved,” he says. This is especially true when he is working in close quarters within the buildings.

In addition to a standard bucket, Dale pairs his S750 with a Bobcat angle broom and a rock bucket to help him clean his barns. “I use the rock bucket for skimming the top layer of poultry litter out of the houses,” he says. Meanwhile, the angle broom bristles remove litter and debris to create a clean surface. “The angle broom is the best way to clean the dirt floor in our brooder house where we start the birds, and we use it in the finishing houses to get the floors as clean as we can.”

Superior cooling package
Another improvement, according to Dale, is the cooling package. He’s working in dusty, dirty barns where debris can potentially affect his machine’s productivity.

“As far as the Bobcat cooling system, there’s nothing better — it’s head and shoulders over other makes in terms of keeping debris out of the radiator. Other machines draw in dirty air from below and blow it out the top, and I was always concerned with that, trying to clean the cooling system,” he says. The Bobcat cooling system pulls in cool clean air from above and blows it out the sides. “The cooling system stays 80 percent cleaner than other makes,” he says.

Roots in agriculture

Eddie Velo and the world’s first three-wheeled loader, built by Louis and Cyril Keller, that led to the Bobcat skid-steer loader.

Eddie Velo and the world’s first three-wheeled loader, built by Louis and Cyril Keller, that led to the Bobcat skid-steer loader.

Taking a step back in time, you may recall that agriculture is where compact equipment got its start. The roots of skid-steer loaders trace back to a Minnesota turkey farmer named Eddie Velo. He faced similar challenges as turkey farmers do today, namely removing manure from barns. Blacksmiths Louis and Cyril Keller forever changed history when they built the world’s first compact loader for Velo. Cleaning barns wasn’t — and still isn’t — a fun job, but thankfully compact equipment has made it much easier, and Velo’s first compact loader has evolved into today’s industry-leading Bobcat® skid-steer loaders.

After 55 years since the first compact loader was invented, livestock producers like Dale and Kevin Jans are still reaping the benefits of the invention. One could argue that the invention is one of the most significant in agriculture in the past 150 years. Dale and Kevin raise turkeys, and a Bobcat skid-steer loader and attachments make their daily chores much easier.