Paul Barrett Agri Contracting is a well-run contracting firm based in Loughrea, Co. Galway.
The business traces its roots back to 1976 when a 16-year-old John Barrett began carrying out hire work on neighbouring farms.
It had humble beginnings, with a Zetor 4712 and a New Holland square baler, combined with a determined work ethic, which led to a steady increase of work.
Fast forward to 1985 when a David Brown 1390, Taarup single chop harvester and a Case loader joined the fleet, while Case tractors, JF harvesters and Deutz and CLASS balers were added in the early 1990s.
Tragedy struck in 2016, with the sudden and untimely passing of John. His son Paul, a US resident at the time, returned to Ireland to continue on the business with the rest of the team.
The business has three full-time employees with seasonal workers and come the busy time of the year, part-timers are recruited as required.
Adapting the fleet to change
The decline of pit silage in the Loughrea area in recent years, and a demand for baled silage, has led to another baler and multiple bale trailers being added to the already large fleet of equipment.
Mark Connors told That’s Farming: “We operate an efficient fleet of mostly Case and Fiat tractors, with a reliable JCB 412 Farm Master Plus still earning its worth among the more modern machines.”
“The baled silage outfit consists of Krone mowers, McHale balers, Tanco wrappers and a CLAAS rake. The high output of bales now being produced has highlighted the necessity of a durable twin satellite bale wrapper over the traditional turntable wrappers.”
The fleet also has Major agitators, Conor slurry tankers with a Mastek dribble bars, and a Conor side spreader.
In addition, they also operate hedgecutters, in particular, Spearhead and Turner machines keep that aspect of the business under control.
All of these brands have been put to the test over the years in the yard and the team are satisfied with how they have performed so far.
Some of the reasons they remain with these brands include dealership back-up, the availability of parts, reliability, practicality/functionality and as well as a good resale value.
Covering the majority of south-east Galway, the main services offered by Paul & crew include all the aspects of baled silage making, and slurry, dung and fertiliser spreading. Hedge-cutting is another string to the bow and there are many other miscellaneous jobs that are required occasionally.
“We are extremely fortunate that we are kept busy for most of the year. Even during a traditionally quiet time, the closed period for spreading organic manure, we make the most of it by getting through as much maintenance as we can.”
“It would not be uncommon to find Paul working on a machine at 10 o’clock at night in December.”
“Without a doubt, weather is definitely the biggest challenge, along with how it impacts ground conditions. Every year, the windows to get work completed are getting tighter and tighter.”
Mark also notes that the retention of customers is key. “We are very grateful to have the loyal customers that we have.”
“John had built up an amazing customer base before his passing. Contracting can be a tough gig, but dealing with good people makes it so much easier and worthwhile.”
Mark quotes Paul by maintaining to be successful in any business you need to take pride in your assets – keep your machines well and look after them. Take pride in your work – farmers are trusting you with their livelihood, do it right.
Keep your word – always be on time to the best of your ability. Surround yourself with good people – both Liam and Padraig have decades of experience, while Eoin has proven himself to be a “very handy man with a spanner”, all, of which, he stressed, are a key part of the business.
Paul’s plans for the future are simple, to keep providing a high-quality service for his customers.
“One thing that we get asked a lot about is the absence of integrated baler wrappers in the yard.”
“We are based here just at the foot lands of the Slieve Aughty mountains, and as you can imagine, this comes hand-in-hand with much more difficult terrain to navigate, wetter ground conditions, tighter spaces and steeper inclines.”
“We find that running balers and wrappers separately works best in these types of circumstances. We have had great success the past two seasons by running three balers with just one wrapper.”
“This is no easy feat and the key component of this is mostly down to the high output of the Tanco 1400v and the excellent support from the crew of lads at Tanco.” he concluded.
Follow @pbarrettagricontracting on Instagram.