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Spring 2012

Traditional dairy farm has new look

Bobcat M-Series skid-steer loader among ways young family moves forward

Garrett, Brenda, Lad and Jack Hastings.

Garrett, Brenda, Lad and Jack Hastings.

The farm, owned by Lad and Brenda Hastings, is a unique combination of what you will find on the typical Midwest family dairy farm: milking, feeding, growing crops, etc. — and the non-traditional — tours, events and an Internet blog.

And one more traditional item: a Bobcat® skid-steer loader, a popular fixture on farms for the past 50 years.

The Hastings, who both come from a dairy background, met in California. Seven years ago they moved to Ohio to start their own farm enterprise.

They purchased a dairy farm near Burton, Ohio, that had been built in the late 1990s and was operated for about three years. It had not been used for two years when the couple bought it.

“Some of the facilities were in place, but we had to do a lot of remodeling to the barn and build a large lagoon for manure,” Lad says. “It took more work than we imagined.”

Focus on milk production
They purchased a couple of herds and, by focusing on the cows instead of on farming, were able to increase milk production to a satisfactory level within six to eight months. Today the 530 Holstein cows, which are milked three times a day in a double-12 herringbone parlor, produce an average of 75 pounds of milk each.

The Hastings’ Bobcat skid-steer loader is just the right size to remove manure from its dairy barns.

The Hastings’ Bobcat skid-steer loader is just the right size to remove manure from its dairy barns.

“By emphasizing a high-quality feeding program, herd health and cow comfort, we are able to operate at the highest level 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Lad says. “We really put our equipment to the test. We don’t have a lot of extra equipment or employees (eight), so reliability is important.”

That’s what brought the M-Series S650 to Hastings Dairy about a year and a half ago.

M-Series addition
“We had another brand of skid-steer loader that was OK, but was getting old and starting to have some downtime,” Lad says. “A dairy producer I used to work for mentioned that he had switched to a Bobcat machine and found it superior to what he previously owned. As a result of that conversation, I contacted Bobcat of Cleveland for a demo.”

Lad points out that “the Bobcat loader is a solid, well-balanced machine. I especially like the ease of service. That’s because the large, swing-open tailgate provides convenient access to routine maintenance items. With the previous loader I had to crawl underneath to remove panels to work on the machine. It was not easy. The service points on the S650 are so much more accessible.”

While the Hastings found that it was very tough to get started, the decision to switch to a Bobcat loader was not difficult. “Once we decided on the best size, the S650 sold itself,” Lad says.

The Dairy Mom

Brenda Hastings’ perspective as a dairy producer and mom

Brenda Hastings’ perspective as a dairy producer and mom

Brenda Hastings began her blog, “The Dairy Mom,” in March 2010, in order to share the story of their farm and to connect with consumers.

“Providing accurate information builds consumer confidence in the dairy industry and the products we produce,” she says. “I want other moms to feel good about serving traditionally produced dairy products to their family.”

In 2011, they started a new venture — Hastings Dairy Tours and Events, opening their farm from April to October for group and school tours and other events (a 1,450-square-foot event room is at one end of the milking barn). During June and also in the fall, they hosted hundreds of visitors to what they call “Open Farm Days.”

More information about this innovative family farm can be found on their website (www.hastingsdairy.com) and on Facebook®, Twitter® and the Hastings Dairy YouTube® channel.

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