From their base in Stabannon, County Louth, brothers David and Patrick Byrne have been providing a wide range of professional, high-quality agri contracting services for a decade and counting. We travelled to the Wee County and had a chat with David to find out more about this exceptional, family-run operation.
As tillage and beef farmers themselves, David and Patrick Byrne possess an innate understanding of what customers require when they engage the services of an agricultural contractor.
This is one of the many reasons why Byrne Bros – a full silage outfit which also specialises in ploughing and sowing, and baling and wrapping – has thrived since it was established ten years ago, quickly earning a stellar reputation as Louth’s premier agri contracting business.
As every job is completed meticulously and promptly, with the keenest attention to detail and at a fair price, Byrne Bros benefit from a steady flow of repeat business across the Wee County and occasionally into parts of Meath.
Farming and contracting is very much in David and Patrick’s blood, so it was no major surprise when they decided to go into business together. “We grew up in this environment. Farming and contracting have been going here for about 60 years,” David confirms. “Our dad, Tommy, did farming and contracting before us and he still works with us today.”
The home farm, Drumgoolestown Farms Ltd., comprises in excess of 1,000 acres at the very heart of the Wee County, in the Mid Louth agri heartland of Stabannon – between Ardee and Dundalk, within close proximity to the M1. Here, a wide range of crops is grown: maize and fodder beet predominantly for other farmers as well as barley, wheat, oats, beans, etc.
“We have 950 acres of crops and then a couple of hundred more of grass for our beef enterprise. We finish 500 head of cattle every year,” David notes.
Typically, contracting services are provided within a 25-mile radius of the home farm. Aligned to the fact that the Byrne brothers understand the needs of farmers as they grew up within a farming environment and continue to work extensively on the family farm, their magnificent fleet of fresh and well-maintained tractors and machinery is at the heart of the contracting business.
In the yard after the day’s work is done, one can find seven tractors, all Massey Fergusons. “We’ve had every other make – John Deere, Landini, Case, etc. – but we’re running Masseys exclusively at the moment,” David continues. “They’re extremely reliable and very good at holding their second-hand value. They’re good on fuel consumption as well as upkeep and maintenance, so they’re certainly ticking all the boxes for us.”
The most recent additions were two new 7720s purchased last year to complement the 7726 acquired in August, 2018 and the new 7720 bought twelve months earlier. Byrne Bros also run a 2015 Massey Ferguson 7618 and two older models for farming – a 2001-reg 6290, with 19,000 hours on it, which is used predominantly for diet feeding and an immaculately-preserved 1987 MF390, with 5,500 working hours on it from new, which is paired with a new McHale bedder.
Byrne Bros offer a full stubble to stubble service. They plough and sow between 3,500 and 4,000 acres per year, running three five-furrow Kverneland ploughs and a Lemken five-metre one-pass seed drill, which was bought new last year.
The also do a lot of pit silage, baling (round and square) and wrapping, having invested in a brand new Fusion 3 baler / wrapper in 2019.
David told us that he is considering adding an eighth tractor to the fleet during the Spring time as he anticipates that things could get even busier than usual. Other key items of machinery in the current fleet include a Claas Jaguar 830 self-propelled forage harvester and a Claas Lexicon 550 combine harvester.
Direct gainful employment is generated for a team of five full time (immediate family members David, Patrick and Tommy plus two others), as well as a couple of part-time workers.
The Byrnes are busy all year around, with the tractors clocking up 2,000 hours per year each. There’s never a dull day. No sooner has the ploughing and sowing slowed down than there’s beet to be harvested until April, by which time the fertilising and spraying of crops has already started (in March).
With their reputation for excellence preceding them, there’s strong demand for all their services. “There’s a lot of ground to cover in the Spring and that brings us into planting beet in late April or early May, the first cut of silage in late May or early June, the winter barley starts in July and wheat in August. We also buy in a lot of straw and bale it up and sell it as well as our own.”
As for the key to Byrne Bros’ success down through the years, David has no hesitation in picking out two qualities that have been instilled into this progressive, dependable family business since Day One, namely reliability and organisation:
“Reliability is No.1,” the Stabannon man concludes. “You can have all the gear you want but it’s no good to anybody if you are not there when they need you. We are good to our word and we never let a customer down. You have to do whatever it takes to accommodate them. We put the customer first and that’s probably one of the main reasons why we never have a quiet month. Going hand in hand with this, organisation is also important. If you are well organised, then it’s a lot easier to keep things moving smoothly and efficiently.”
Byrne Bros Agricultural Contractors,
Tel: 086 3850525 (David) / 087 2678532 (Patrick)
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 8 No 2, Summer 2020