Doug Stanko of S5 Farms spends most of his day around hay. But S5 Farm in Lomond, Alberta, isn’t a regular hay and straw producer. Whether they’re stacking it, loading it on semi-trucks or storing it, they know that their hay is going to travel the world. The 2,500-acre farm has been in Stanko’s family since 1961, and for the last 25 years, they’ve been exporting their products to countries like Japan and China. The addition of their Merlo telehandler has helped them become even more efficient.
Stanko’s day-to-day operations aren’t an unheard-of routine for farmers, especially in Alberta’s famous “Feedlot Alley”, an area known for producing 60% of all Canadian beef. But Stanko’s hay is some of the highest quality around. After all, it’s not every farmer whose product is in such high demand, especially overseas.
Their Timothy hay is exported to feed livestock abroad, especially in Japan, where it provides much-needed fibre for the animals. Stanko even got the chance to visit Japan and see exactly how his hay is being used.
To maintain their product, they need to be able to grow, dry, stack and ship their hay efficiently and effectively. Their Merlo is almost always being used to ensure that the farm’s operations are running smoothly.
“It’s our super-utility machine,” said Stanko. “With the Merlo’s functions and its versatility, it’s great. We’re able to move 1,000 bales a day from our field to our shed a few miles away. It’s not difficult at all to do 180 bales an hour with it.”
Even with the speed of the machine, Stanko and his family put in some long hours. One of the biggest draws of a Merlo telehandler for Stanko was the comfort of the cabin thanks to its suspension system.
“The Merlo suspension cabin makes the day go way better,” said Stanko. “We’ll use it for almost anything, just because of the smooth ride. Hardly any other tractors have that suspension, so it’s nice. You don’t realize the support until you ride in a different machine.”
When it comes to stacking hay, the name of the game is precision and speed, especially for a family farm like S5. Doug’s two daughters and son-in-law are all heavily involved in the hay operation. Everyone can operate their telehandler, and they rely on it extensively.
“We demand good equipment. There are only five of us, so we need our machinery to be the highest quality possible. The precision of the Merlo is so good you can almost take it for granted. It’s like air conditioning, it’s normal until you don’t have it,” said Stanko.
“Lots of people can do things normally, but you don’t get rewarded that way. You get rewarded by doing something special,” said Stanko.
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