“We try to be creative and innovative to remain viable in a challenging industry. We have been fortunate to have developed strong relationships with agribusiness and other farmers to help us be successful.” – Chris Hannan
They grew up surrounded by cows, despite the fact that farming was their dad’s hobby, not his livelihood. Still, Chris and Todd Hannan were both active in 4H and Future Farmers of America as kids, and that interest led them to dairy and animal science studies in college.
So is it any wonder that today, the duo is running Hannan Holsteins Farms, Connecticut’s 2019 Dairy Farm of the Year?
The Hannans are the recipients of the Green Pasture Award, given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states. Winners are evaluated on production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
The Hannan brothers’ operation straddles the towns of Woodbury and Southbury, and includes a milking herd of 50 registered Holsteins, with a total of 140 head of teenage and mature cows at a rented facility that abuts the family farm.
Todd and Chris got their start with 4-H sheep and beef projects, but when the brothers were in high school, the first Holstein heifers arrived at their property in Southbury from their uncle’s dairy farm and the two were hooked on dairying. Todd graduated from Cobleskill College and worked at several area dairy farms, while Chris graduated from the University of Connecticut and worked for Cargill in New York and southern New England overseeing nutrition programs. Cows were always a sideline, however, until the two decided 10 years ago to dairy farm full-time.
Chris explains he and his brother also focus on a sideline hay business: they farm approximately 350 acres which includes 80 acres of corn for silage and grain, with the rest for haylage and hay. As Chris notes, Connecticut has the highest concentration of horses per square mile of any other state – and as they say, hay is for horses. The brothers focus on efficiency of production and they are well known in the area for their excellent relationships within the agricultural industry 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, which rents cropland to the brothers. Their continued stewardship of these public lands is a tribute to the family’s sustainable approach to dairy farming.
“We feel fortunate to have received this prestigious award,” says Chris. “We try to be creative and innovative to remain viable in a challenging industry. We have been fortunate to have developed strong relationships with agribusiness and other farmers to help us be successful.”
Photos Courtesy Cabot Creamery Cooperative