Padhraic Bourke, from Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, runs his own contracting company, called Bourke Contracting, alongside his farm of 60 suckler cows.
He farms 190-acres, 120 of which are rented, alongside his father. The duo also run a calf-to-beef system, finishing 80 bulls each year.
The Bourkes farm predominantly Limousin cattle, with a number of Blonde d’Aquitaine and Belgian Blues also. They used to compete in shows with pedigree cattle but stopped doing so a few years back.
The third-generation farmer began agricultural contracting in 2016. He started from nothing with very little machinery and no client base. The business has grown ever since and Padhraic has been able to run his business on a full-time basis.
“Coming from a farming background, I used to do a few bits for neighbours and then I decided I would go out on my own. When I started, I worked for Shannon transport in Limerick, doing the Guinness run.” he told That’s Farming’s Cian McAndrew.
“Then work started building up so I could give that up and now I’m full-time contracting.
“I started with just a tractor, a mower and a bale handler. Since then, I do all reseeding, start to finish, slurry, square baling – I made 10,000 bales last year, round baling, drawing in, stacking, tedding, spreading manure, bits of everything really.”
The young entrepreneur recently found out that he isn’t the first contractor in his family. His grandfather used to offer a spraying service by horse and cart.
Bourke Contracting’s fleet comprises of a John Deere 6820; John Deere 6910; two John Deere mowers – a trailed mower and a disc mower; a Kuhn tender; an International square baler; a John Deere combi-baler; Dooley trailers; a manure spreader and a disc harrow.
Starting from scratch
The 26-year-old started four years ago and has said it was difficult at the beginning, but hard work and long hours helped him grow.
“When you start on your own, from nothing, it’s very hard to get up and going. This year and last year were very good, so it is starting to grow. There are new customers every week.”
“I travel everywhere. I’m trying to cover North Tipperary, Laois, Offaly and parts of Kilkenny. We’re going as far as Athy for straw and hay. Anything we can draw, we’ll draw.”
“The growth of the business is from hard work. Being on-time is a big thing I find. Being reliable and doing things to the best you can is important too. Just getting your name out at all is a help and to get in with farmers can be very hard when you’re starting off. You have to build that trust. Trust is the main thing.”
Padhraic hopes to carry on expanding the company in the future and is hopeful he can do so.
“I would love to get bigger and get more work. I’m hoping that after this winter there will be a change around. Some days you could have two tractors on the road and other days you’d have none.”
The young farmer enjoys his work, the variety that job offers keeps it interesting.
“The most enjoyable thing is not being inside, stuck inside in an office. You have late nights and you have early mornings, but I don’t mind that. Every day is a new day and there’s something different every day.”
If you are an agricultural contractor and you want to share your story, email – firstname.lastname@example.org