From their base in Streamstown, County Westmeath, Scally Agri Contractors provide local farmers with unrivalled pit silage, baling, slurry and hedge cutting services. We had a chat with Don Scally – son of founder Larry – to find out more about this exceptional second-generation, family-run operation.
For coming up on half a century, farmers in Westmeath have been availing of first-class services from Scally Agri Contractors, who lead the way when it comes to delivering no nonsense hedge cutting, slurry, silage and baling solutions exactly as and when required.
Due to the varied nature of the services provided, the Scallys are busy all year around but Don kindly took time out from his hectic schedule to speak to Irish Tractor & Agri about the history of the family enterprise and the services provided by experienced, dedicated men using fresh, immaculately-maintained machinery.
As the Scallys also run their own dairy enterprise, milking 80 cows, they possess an innate understanding of the needs and expectations of farmers who enlist the services of a contractor. They offer a keen personal touch, with five members of the family involved in various capacities – namely father Larry and his sons Don, Noel, Eddie and Andy.
As Don reflects, the contracting business had a rather organic genesis, not unlike most others … “Dad would have been working on the home farm and he started to offer his services to other farmers. He started out with a single chop harvester in the early 1970s and began hedge cutting in 1980 and the business grew from there. We still have the family farm, where we milk 80 cows and raise our own calves, which we keep until they are two years old.
“In the contracting end of it, we have four here full time – Larry, Noel, Jack Egan and myself – and we would employ up to ten during the peak period at the height of the summer.”
The catchment area covered comprises the greater Streamstown, Rosemount, Horseleap, Ballinagore and Castletown hinterlands and a fantastic fleet of machinery is at the heart of the business, Larry and his sons having assembled a stunning array of gear which is preserved in optimal condition at all times.
Hedge cutting was the original contracting service provided on a large scale and it’s still a central part of the business today. To this end, Scally Agri Contractors own and operate three McConnel hedge cutters, which are in full rotation throughout every winter season from September 1st right through until March 1st.
Slurry-wise, the Scallys run a trailing shoe, which is very popular due to the benefits of low emissions, and also do agitating.
“For baling, we have a McHale Fusion 3 Plus integrated baler wrapper, which we bought new in 2015, having never made a bale before that. We wanted to get involved in baling and it was one of the best moves we’ve made. It’s worked out extremely well and we’ve been doing a good bit of baling over the last four years. Pit silage is the other service we provide, as well as milking our own cows, so we are certainly kept busy all year around. Silage is the bread and butter of the business. We really enjoy making silage … it’s in the blood.”
Larry and Don man two of the hedge cutters, while Eddie comes on board to operate the third one from a New Holland tractor. Andy Scally, meanwhile, is a member of the Defence Forces, but he helps out with the contracting during the summer months. “Jack is also like a member of the family,” Don notes. “He’s here ten years and he’s a big part of the business.
“My father has been the driving force behind Scally Agri Contractors since Day One and he’s still very much involved today at the age of 72.”
As for the key to Scally Agri’s longevity and enduring popularity as an agri contractor of choice in the local region, Don says it all comes down to providing a quality service, on time. “You have to do what you say you are going to do, when you said you were going to do it. If we say we will be there, then we’ll be there. We tell it as it is and we work a lot of hours if we have to. We get it done right and get out the gate and everybody is happy. Our motto would be ‘tell it as it is, do it when you said you would and stay at it until it’s done’.”
All the mowing work is subcontracted to Paul Boland Agri in Rosemount, who runs a superb set of butterfly mowers and provides a very efficient and professional service.
There are total of seven tractors in the fleet at present, ranging from a 1995 Massey Ferguson 390T to a 2018 Massey Ferguson 7720s. The other four Masseys are an ‘04 5455, ’06 5465, ’00 6290, and 2014-reg 6480, complemented by the 2003-reg TS115 New Holland.
Elsewhere in the farmyard, one can find a JCB 416s loading shovel, Claas Jaguar 820 silage harvester and the aforementioned McHale Fusion 3 Plus and Power Arm McConnel hedge cutters alongside two Major 2,600-gallon slurry tankers, one of which features a trailing shoe injection system for lower emissions.
“Noel is a qualified mechanic and he handles all the daily maintenance and servicing and repairs within reason,” says Don. “On top of that, we get Clarkes in Kells down to service the baler and we send the harvester to Kellys in Borris, Carlow in February every year. They go through it from top to bottom and it comes back to us every April / May in prime condition. Both of those dealers give us a very good service and everything here is in perfect condition before we go out. It’s all about preventative maintenance and making sure that nothing goes wrong while the machine is at work.”
Scally Agri Contractors’ reputation for excellent service levels precedes them. “95% of our work is with repeat customers,” Don confirms. “They know we can consistently get the work done. We use the same group of lads all the time and we know we can get through this volume of work. Last summer was very dry and we got through an exceptional amount of work during that period.
“It’s good to get the work done quicker. We are steadily increasing our workload every year, without having to go looking for it, because every farmer might have 15 or so more cows and there’s a bit more work with each of them.
“There were also a lot more hedges to be cut this year because of the dry winter. We were able to get into a lot more fields and gained access to hedges we’d never even seen before.”
Hedge cutting ensures that there’s work and income all year around, without any real drop-off…
“My father started with an old Ford tractor and bought a new Massey 265 in 1984, which was a big thing here at the time. He went to two hedge cutters in ’98 and then went to three machines in 2016, all doing private work for farmers. We have 40 years’ experience of hedge cutting now and we do it right.”
Looking to the future, the plan to is continue to deliver the high levels of service for which Scally Agri Contractors are renowned: “We’ll keep improving the machinery to ensure that those standards are maintained,” Don concludes.
“We’d eventually like to run a second Fusion if we had enough work for it and perhaps a fourth hedge cutter as well in the not-too-distant future. We’ll also upgrade our existing machinery but maintenance is key here and making sure everything works as it should. We’re going to invest in a 20ft trailer this year, too, so it’s very much onwards and upwards.”
Scally Agri Contractors,
Tel: 087 6425748
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 3, June/July 2019