Sean Tully Animal Feeds uses by-products from the bakery, confectionary and brewing industries to produce nutritionally-balanced moist beef and dairy rations. We visited their County Cavan base – where the rations are blended for distribution to farmers nationwide – and spoke to Raymond Tully to find out more about this exceptional family-run operation.
By taking surplus products (bread, cakes, cereal) from the human food chain and blending them with distillers grains and sugar, Sean Tully Animal Feeds produces two high-quality moist rations – one for beef and one for dairy – which are going down a treat on farms nationwide.
Twenty-eighteen has been their busiest year to date and, with the escalating fodder crisis expected to deteriorate to unprecedented levels this winter, it seems like demand for this practical, high-energy feed has yet to spike. Sean, Gwen and Raymond – the family team who head up this pioneering business – are bracing themselves for a hectic end to the calendar year…
“Sean has been in this business since 1979,” says Raymond, reflecting on the genesis of this organic, sustainable and environmentally-friendly enterprise. “He set up the company with his wife Gwen, Sean Tully Animal Feeds Ltd, five years ago and I joined him two years ago. The business has gone from strength to strength these last few years.”
Demand for rations has been exceptionally high so far in 2018 and will almost certainly remain so for the duration of the calendar year. “We do a lot of stockpiling during the summer months to get us through the winter and we’ve had that surplus stockpile there to fall back on to satisfy the exceptional summer demand,” Raymond reveals. “We’ll have to stockpile even more than usual now in preparation for the winter months. We’ve been flat out and the strong demand means there’s been no quiet June / July this year, but we’re not going to complain about that!”
The main ingredient in the rations is surplus bread, which is imported as fresh milled bread, packed with starch and energy. “We use bread from the UK and Ireland as there isn’t enough available here in Ireland to meet our needs. We also use breakfast cereal, which is imported from the UK.
“We input cake from a local bakeries as well as grain distillers and pot ale syrup. We also use oat feed, which is a by-product of porridge, and sugar from the confectionery industry.
“All of the ingredients that go into the rations are extremely fresh,” Raymond continues. “These by-products are from the human food chain, you essentially have human-grade food with no toxins whatsoever going into the animal food chain, delivering outstanding results.”
The ingredients are mixed together in a specially-commissioned, computerised Keenan / Alltech mixer, with the expertise of renowned nutritionist Gerry Giggins called upon to ensure the production of two consistent, high-quality rations that enhance performance, whilst improving animal health and welfare.
The high-energy moist beef ration boasts 14% protein and the moist dairy ration has 16% protein, each with a dry matter content of 63%. As the rations are palatable, they increase digestibility and intake, helping the animal thrive.
“The benefit of moist feed is that it is more palatable to the animal, which can eat more,” Raymond continues. “Not only do cattle enjoy it, but it’s also high-energy content.”
Furthermore, the rations can be used as standalone feed or to complement other rations, for example in the case where a dairy farmer continues to use nuts in the milking parlour.
Of course, consistency is key to ensure that farmers know precisely what their cows are eating. “Our computerised system records exactly how much of each ingredient goes into each mix. Consistency is vital as you have to feed them the same ration all the time, otherwise the animal won’t do well.”
This dedication to producing a dependable, high-quality ration ensures an ever-growing base of repeat customers. “We are very loyal to our customers and they are loyal back. We have a lot of regular customers nationwide and have new ones coming on board all the time. But it’s easier to keep a customer than to find a new one, which is why we look after them with the best possible products and service.”
Serving farmers across counties Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wexford, Wicklow, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Louth, Laois, Galway, Mayo, Cavan, Monaghan and everywhere in between, Sean Tully Animal Feeds carry out all their own deliveries and operate a fleet of three rigid trucks – two MANs and one Volvo. Investment in the fleet is ongoing and, to this end, they’ve just taken possession of a brand-new MAN. The two new lorries and the walking floor make deliveries as efficient and convenient as possible.
Deliveries are made in bulk and two of the lorries have split bodies, which means two drops can be made on one trip. Back at base, Sean busies himself with making sure that all the fresh rations are mixed and ready to go as and when required…
“He’d be up mixing at 4am and the first lorries would head out between 5 and 7. When they come back, they could go out again and do another run the same day,” Raymond notes.
“The ration itself would have a shelf life of two-three weeks and part of our service is that we like to get it to the customer as fresh as possible to maximise that.”
At present, employment is generated for a team of nine. “We’ve expanded from five people two years ago so we are in a period of expansion and would be delighted if we could keep that up. Sales have increased year on year and obviously 2018 has been our busiest year to date.
“With the drought and the fodder shortage this year, we’ve had more demand from dairy farmers in the summer than ever before. More new customers are contacting us through word of mouth and we’re expecting them to come back and do business with us again in the winter as long as we provide them with a good service.”
The rations are An Bord Bia approved, UFAS accredited and licensed with the Department of Agriculture. The formulae have been perfected… “It’s only in the last three years that it has really taken off. There was a lot of trial and error for a couple of years before that until Sean got the formula just right. It took a long time to perfect it and there are a lot of factors to take into account, like which product goes in when, how much of it to add and how long to leave it in the mixer. Sean has that experience now and he knows exactly how to do it.
“There won’t be any wholesale changes to the rations at this stage as we are really happy with them. But we constantly review them and we have our own laboratory here on site where they are tested on a daily basis.”
As farmers themselves, the Tullys know that their rations work extremely well in a practical setting, “We have 250 Friesian bulls here, which we feed up to 14-16 months. We feed them our own rations, along with straw and minerals from Devenish and we achieve excellent weight gain,” Raymond concludes. “We’re making good money off it ourselves so we know how well the rations are performing. They are tested in the lab and used regularly on our own farm, so we can guarantee excellent performance.”
Sean Tully Animal Feeds Ltd.,
Tel: 049 4331958
Mobile: 087 1602764
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 6 No 7, November 2018