Iowa Farmer Uses Compact Track Loader to Manage the Unexpected

Allen Silfies (l) and Clark Brauninger show off their JCB skid steers.

Farming involves a wide variety of tasks and part of a farmer’s reality is not knowing what each day may bring. For Allen Silfies, who farms in northwest Iowa, unpredictable weather and rough, mixed terrain present their own set of challenges.

For over 25 years, Silfies has been working his family farm, growing corn, soybeans and alfalfa, as well as running a cattle operation. Originally from Pennsylvania, the Silfies family relocated to Iowa 9 years ago. Today, he and his son oversee the family’s two farms near Correctionville, Iowa.

For a job that requires completing a multitude of labor-intensive tasks, dependable and versatile heavy equipment is particularly valuable. “My JCB 260 Compact Track Loader helps me do my job better, faster and easier,” Silfies explains. “It saves me time and its ability to perform so many different tasks saves me money. From hauling bales and moving dirt, to drilling holes or using its forklift, I use it daily.” In addition to its use for completing daily farm chores, such as moving dirt, manure and hay bales, Silfies uses his JCB skid steer for an array of other jobs around the farm, including construction projects. Most recently, Silfies has been using the machine to lift and move pallets as well as other building materials as they lay a new brick addition to their home. 

With over 30 attachment families available, the JCB 260 Compact Track Loader’s potential applications are nearly endless. Silfies uses a digger, pallet forks, a grapple and three sheers, with plans to get the snow blower attachment soon. Switching to any of the machine’s 30 attachments is a simple matter thanks to its standard universal mechanical hitch or an optional hydraulic quick hitch. Parallel lift and two speeds allow the unit to maneuver around the job site, completing more tasks in less time. With the introduction of an optional Smooth Ride System (SRS), even transporting materials over rough terrain, as Silfies does, has been made easier.

Another unique aspect of farming is the frequency of working alone. JCB skid steers and compact track loaders are well-suited for this as they are designed with safety in mind. JCB’s skid steers and compact track loaders feature an exclusive single-arm “PowerBoom,” with 20% more steel than others with two-armed designs. The single arm allows JCB to place the cab door on the side rather than on the front of the machine, allowing operators to easily climb in and out of the machine without climbing over dangerous attachments or under the loader arm.

In addition, the JCB 260 CTL features an unobstructed rear view and better all-around visibility, further enhanced by laminated glass vs. a mesh screen on cab models. “The ability to enter the machine from the side and the safety of the one-arm boom allows me to get in and out easily. This is very helpful when you’re frequently working alone,” Silfies explains. “Industry-leading visibility and tracks allow me to go anywhere, anytime, even in muddy or unexpected conditions.”

A significant example of these “unexpected conditions” took place about 2 years ago, when the Silfies family farm was suddenly struck by a destructive tornado. In the aftermath of the storm, Silfies’ JCB 260 CTL proved its worth on a new level, as it was useful in cleaning up after the storm and for the reconstruction of the structures hardest hit. “Living in Iowa, extreme storms and tornadoes like that are a risk we can’t avoid. There’s no way around it, so you just have to try to prepare for it the best you can because it can happen so quickly,” Silfies explains. “In addition to everything my JCB CTL could do to clear the area and reconstruct, having the tracks allowed us to go in and clean up all of the scrap metal and not have to worry about getting a flat tire.”

Silfies’ current JCB 260 CTL is his fifth skid steer overall, and the second JCB he has owned. Silfies replaced his previous JCB model, used in the tornado aftermath, with a newer model at the start of summer 2015. “I loved my first JCB so I knew I wanted to stick with a JCB. I replaced it with a newer model with additional features,” Silfies says.

After telling his friend Clark Brauninger how much he enjoyed his first JCB loader and why he was choosing to replace it with another JCB machine, Brauninger decided to also purchase one for use on his farm. Both Silfies and Brauninger purchased their JCB machines from their local JCB dealer — Hawke JCB. “Our experience with Hawke JCB has been great,” Silfies says. “They deliver as promised, have excellent service and are just great people to work with.”

Regardless of the specific reason for which someone purchases a JCB Compact Track Loader, one thing is certain: It will become useful in more ways than imagined. “If you are even considering getting a compact track loader, go drive one,” Silfies recommends. “You need to use it or see a demo of some kind to gauge the many benefits of owning one. When most people get into mine, they just love it.”


About JCB

JCB is a privately owned, global company that manufactures over 300 different machines from 22 plants on four continents including the United Kingdon, India, Brazil and the United States. Equipment lines offered include: backhoe loaders, Loadall telescopic handlers, excavators, wheel loaders, articulated dump trucks, rough terrain forklifts, compact excavators, skid steer loaders, compact track loaders, compaction equipment and the unique Fastrac tractor. For more information, visit