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September 25, 2019

CONNECTICUT 2019 DAIRY FARM OF THE YEAR

Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation

 

Hannan Holsteins Farm is the winner of the of the Connecticut 2019 Dairy Farm of the Year award. The award honors the hard work and dedication of Chris and Todd Hannan—two brothers who brought years of agricultural experience with them when they started their dairy operation ten years ago in Woodbury, CT.

Todd graduated from Cobleskill College and has worked at several dairy farms, including Arethusa farm, which won the 2013 Connecticut Dairy Farm of the Year award. Chris graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Agronomy, and worked as a dairy management consultant for Cargill Animal Nutrition overseeing nutrition programs on many farms in New York and Southern New England, while running a farmsitting business for various dairies in Connecticut and Eastern New York.

They focus on efficiency of production and they are well known in the area for their excellent relationships within the agriculture area and also with community organizations and neighbors. They rent and manage nearby state land and they have truly benefited from their late father’s strong relationships with the Southbury Land Trust that rents cropland to the brothers.

The Connecticut Dairy Farm of the Year award is presented through the New England Green Pastures Program. The New England Green Pastures Program began in 1947 when the Governor of New Hampshire challenged the other New England States to produce better pastures.

As the New England dairy industry has changed over the years, so have the objectives of the New England Green Pastures program. It has evolved from one of promoting pastures and forage management to its present objective of honoring an outstanding dairy family from each of the six New England States for total management (both production and financial) of the operating farm, considering the farm family’s contribution to the agricultural community.

Dr. Sheila Andrew, UConn Professor and Dairy Extension Specialist, coordinates the Connecticut the Green Pastures Award judging team, which consists of a panel of previous years’ award winners and UConn Extension staff.

Dr. Andrew said Chris and Todd Hannan have all the characteristics the judging team looks for in a nominee including excellent forage management, herd management, nutrient management, as well as community engagement to improve and promote the dairy industry.

“They started out with their love of cows and a few heifers. They knew they needed to get experience before setting up a business.” said Dr. Andrew. “Now they have established a farm of their own with award winning cows and excellent production in a tight dairy market.”

The New England Green Pastures program continues to emphasize the importance of a viable dairy industry in New England, primarily through the annual Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year award for each of the six New England states. Each state winner is presented with an engraved silver pitcher at an awards banquet and evening program honoring these outstanding farm families held at The Big E in September.

The Green Pastures program also helps bring prominent teachers and research personnel to New England to conduct special in-service training sessions for Extension, agri-business and dairy leaders on problems facing the dairy industry.

Over the past 10 years, Todd and Chris have focused on genetic progress in their herd of 50 prized registered Holsteins, half of which are Red and White Holsteins, which has contributed to excellent quality milk and production. They have a total of 140 head of young stock and mature cows at their facility in Woodbury.

Chris and Todd farm approximately 350 acres of haylage, hay, and corn for silage and grain. Their skill at forage production can be seen in their success in a hay business that supplements their dairy income.

Chris and Todd Hannan are first-generation dairy farmers that got their start in agriculture with 4-H sheep and beef projects.

“Being a young first generation business owner, I have viewed this industry from the outside and had the opportunity to enter the Holstein business because agriculture has been my passion from a young age,” said Chris.

The brothers grew up in Southbury, CT, and got their first Holstein heifers from their uncle’s farm when they were in high school. Their dad did some crop work as a hobby but they weren’t born into farming, and they had to figure out how to make it happen themselves.

“Not having an established business, we had to start our business from scratch and make the connections to help further our business,” said Chris. “We have had to use outside-the-box thinking and adaptability to enter the industry and survive in volatile markets.”

They participated in the agriscience and technology program at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, CT, and continued to study agriculture and animal science in college. After college, they working independently in agriculture for several years before reuniting to start Hannan Holsteins Farm with a small herd of prized registered Holsteins they had boarded at several other farms. Their herd of Black & White, and Red & White Holsteins, includes the offspring of 2003 Reserve Grand Champion Red & White at World Dairy Expo, Hannan Rubens Courtney-Red.

Their herd has set state records for milk production thanks to the high quality of feed crops they produce themselves. Their 40-cow tie-stall dairy has a 23,000 pound rolling herd average and 108 BAA. The Holstein Breed Age Average (BAA) value provides a way to compare the score of an animal (and herd average) to the average of the breed, taking into account age of the animal and stage of lactation.

Both brothers are well known for maintaining strong relationships within their local agricultural and community organizations, as well as their neighbors.

“Farming in a suburban setting forces us to be proactive in dealing with neighbors and educating the public,” said Chris.

Those relationships have enabled them to rent and manage nearby state land for crop production including land held by the Southbury Land Trust.

“The majority of the land we use is owned by private land trusts,” said Chris. “As an industry there will be fewer farms feeding more people and it will force us to help educate the population on the role Registered Holstein cattle play in creating a higher level of consumer safety in the dairy products we produce.”

Chris has been recognized by Holstein Association USA as a Distinguished Junior Member Finalist and is a past president and vice president with the New England Holstein Association. He has also been involved in Agri-Mark as regional secretary and a voting representative. Chris is a member of the Nature Conservancy Sunny Valley Farm Committee, Litchfield County Dairy Committee, and Nonnewaug High School Ag Advisory Board.