Operating out of beautiful Bunclody, County Wexford, Rothwell Bros Agri is an exceptional third-generation family business providing a complete range of unrivalled contracting solutions. We travelled to the Model County and touched base with William Rothwell to get an update on this outstanding stubble to stubble contractor, which becomes even more efficient with each passing year.
An intrinsic part of the local farming community, Rothwell Bros Agri continues to move with the times, investing regularly and tapping into new efficiencies. Twenty-twenty was another progressive and successful year for the long-established, Wexford-based, industry-leading family-run operation, which now offers greatly-expanded baling services.
“It was a very good year with a lot of work completed,” William reflects. “We got a lot of grass done, a lot of baled silage. Whereas previously we only had a baler and hired in a lad with a wrapper, for last year we purchased a Fusion baler and it has worked out really well. One man can do all the work, so it saves on downtime and makes the baling far more efficient.”
The Fusion is complemented by a new bale handler, which further improves the efficiency of the silage outfit. “The TR8 bale handler really brings the Fusion into its own. We were able to load the bales onto trailers with the wrap on them and everything is faster and smoother. The bale handler was a great add-on and it made the whole system work really well,” adds William, who fronts the operation alongside brother Graham, with their father George – who has been involved in contracting for more than six decades – keeping a close eye on things!
Tractor-wise, the Rothwells run five New Hollands, the latest addition to the fleet being a brand new T7.210 purchased in the Spring of 2019. A new Broughan trailer was added for the last harvest, while William also changed the harvester from a Claas to a New Holland CX 8050. “The Claas combines are grand but they are fairly wide and the New Holland we got is a high-output, five-walker machine, which is narrow on the road. We needed that because we tend to go down a lot of narrow lanes.”
Due to the high quality and dependability of the services offered, Rothwell Bros benefit from a steady flow of repeat business, serving satisfied local farmers who they’ve been doing business with for generations: “We don’t travel mad distances as we don’t need to, thankfully,” William confirms. “We have loyal customers and we go out of our way to look after them as best we can.”
Key to this is consistently delivering efficient and reliable services, which often requires investment in replenishing and upgrading the fleet of tractors and machinery. “Trust is very important and you can’t lose their trust. If you aren’t going to be there, then don’t say you are going to be there. Farmers appreciate honesty. Tell them the truth and they will respect that. When you do turn up, get through the work quickly and do it right. That’s what they want – a tidy and quick job at a fair price.”
A keen hedge strimming service is also provided: “We have two McConnel hedge strimmers, which fill in a lot of the gaps in the work. We’d do a good bit of that during the winter and also if you had a wet week earlier in the year you could do some hedge strimming.
“We also rent about 20 acres locally, where we grow fodder beet and sell it to local farmers, who feed it to their stock,” William reveals. “We had been at the sugar beet when the factories were going and we continued with it as we have the contacts and the machinery.”
The Rothwells are also agents for Kilcarrig Quarries in Bagenalstown, who produce superior ground limestone products catering for all soil types. “The lime spreading is also going very well and we would have our own 15-20km area to cover. Typically, the limestone will last four or five years after you spread it, although it all depends on how good the soil is. Some farmers might have to go two years in a row to get the pH levels right.”
Contracting and farming are very much in the Rothwell DNA. William and Graham inherited their passion for the land from their father, who at the rare old age of 77 remains as enthusiastic and active as ever he’s been – a real inspiration! “He bought a new tractor last year – a lovely fresh 11-reg New Holland T7060 from Paddy Lacey in Enniscorthy, who brings in quality second-hand tractors from England,” the former adds. “He works the home farm with 100 acres of tillage and some grass and sheep. We sow for him but he does all the ploughing himself and as much of everything else as he can.”
Between weather and coronavirus, 2020 presented its challenges but it’s all systems go for Rothwell Bros Agri moving into the new year: “It was a very showery year and the harvest was tough, but grass grew well at the back-end of the year,” William concludes. “With the coronavirus, we found ourselves bringing our own dinners and eating them in hay sheds. We’d be looking forward to some of the nice dinners and you’d miss those, but apart from that it didn’t really affect us too much.
“Everything is looking good heading into 2021. We’re planning to become a limited company and push things on. We hope to change the JCB loader in the Spring time and we might buy a new tractor as well. You have to keep on top of everything and make sure you always have the freshest fleet possible to provide the best services.”
Rothwell Bros Agri,
Tel: 086 836 3797
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 2, March/April 2021