Colm Brady is a vastly-experienced agricultural contractor with an unblemished track record for invariably delivering excellent results. But the Galway man has never been one to rest on his laurels and it is through sheer hard work and regular reinvestment that he continues to offer increasingly efficient and dependable services to an expanding customer base.
Serving farmers in County Galway for three-and-a-half decades, Brady Agri Contractors has moved with the times since its inception and stands proud today as one of the most modern, reputable and sought-after agricultural contracting specialists in the West. Fronted by Colm Brady alongside his parents and brothers, the business is active all year around, providing a full range of contracting services to a loyal – and ever-expanding – base of customers in and around Peterswell.
The quality of the service is a given – you simply won’t survive in contracting for 35 years and counting if your work is not up to scratch – but when I touched base with the long-serving contractor in early autumn, 2021, it quickly became apparent that consistently investing money in the best machinery is also a prerequisite to success in such a demanding sector, where discerning customers will accept nothing less than prompt, precise and economical solutions.
To this end, Colm has managed to develop Brady Agri Contractors into a sustainable, viable, long-term, year-round business by producing the chequebook more frequently than he’d probably care to remember! Recent additions to the fleet include a new Case Puma tractor, umbilical slurry system, ZeroGrazer, one-pass seeder, a rake, Big M mower and a Fusion 3 baler, with the arrival of a new tree shear attachment imminent as we speak. The fleet is regularly replenished and every machine is preserved in immaculate running order at all times.
“If you want to get in and get the job done quickly and efficiently, you have to invest in the machinery to make that possible,” Colm confirms. “The weather dictates so much of what you can do and when you can do it that you have to have the machinery on hand to literally make hay when the sun shines. Even if you take something simple like investing in the new rake, it’s faster for us and it improves the crop quality at the same time, so it’s win-win and that is the kind of efficiency you are seeking all the time.
“You strive to be as efficient as possible and that’s what you are thinking about always. With the set-up we have now, we can have three mowers on one tractor and that leaves two other lads free to concentrate on other jobs. Things are growing, thankfully, and we are moving in the right direction.”
Colm runs a fleet of seven tractors, the most recent addition being a Case Puma 160. “It’s an all-rounder size-wize and it can pull a baler or a slurry tank so it’s ideal for our needs,” he notes. The latest arrival increases the Case representation to four (joining two CS150s and a Puma 180), supplemented by a couple of John Deeres (a 6820 and a 6620) and his grandfather’s iconic old David Brown. “That one is 40 years’ old and my father looks after it – he did square baling this year. Square baling was very popular during the heatwave.”
Generally, why does the South Galway operation gravitate towards the Case marque? “I find them very reliable. They are cheaper than John Deere and will do the same work. They are a good tractor, fairly fuel efficient and there is a very good mechanic locally who is great with the Case brand. Often the back-up service will be one of the main reasons why you follow a certain brand.”
As a traditional family business, with a keen emphasis on providing a personal service, Brady Agri Contractors generates full-time employment for five full-time (Colm is joined by his parents and two brothers), a number which rises to eight during the peak of the summer months.
How has it been possible to spread the work out and ensure that there’s something to do in each of the twelve months? “That comes down to providing as many services as possible. You have to do that. We provide a lot of services now and that’s the best way to keep work and to pay for machinery. Another obvious benefit of this is that if you can cover everything, a lot of farmers will appreciate that they can bring in one man to do all their jobs. That makes more sense from their perspective. Many farmers are only farming part-time and they put their trust in us to do the work properly for them.”
Brady Agri Contractors has certainly come a long, long way since starting out in the mid-80s as a modest pit silage harvesting outfit with one tractor and a double-chop harvester. Today, they offer a full range of round and square baling, pit silage, reseeding, slurry and muck spreading, lime spreading, hedge cutting, mulching, land drainage and reclamation, groundworks, plant hire and turf cutting services to customers within a 25km radius of Castledaly.
“The vast majority of our work is for farmers,” Colm continues. “Rates in construction really aren’t great at the moment, so farming is a safer option.” The customer base is always growing and this is due to the outstanding reputation Brady Agri Contractors has established near and far. The reason why they benefit from so much favourable word of mouth? “If we tell a farmer we are going to be there at a certain time, then we will be there. It doesn’t always come down to price. Dependability is vital and being good to your word. They want the job done and they want it done right. You can’t keep people waiting or let them down. If you arrive on time and get the work finished quickly and efficiently without any breakdowns or lost time, then that’s guaranteed to keep the customer happy.”
The Bradys operate a Claas self-propelled forage harvester, a Volvo L70 loading shovel, two McHale Fusion round balers, a McHale standard round baler, front and side Samasz mowers, a Kverneland mower and rake, a Conor wrapper, two 2,500-gallon Conor slurry tankers, an NC slurry agitator, Rolland rear discharge muck spreader, Ruscon lime spreader, Kverneland four-furrow reversible plough, Kuhn power harrow with air seeder, Mandam and Metalfach disc harrows, McConnel hedge cutter, two dump trailers, two 13-tonne Hitachi track machines (one with an Arbocut flail head and an Arbocut circular saw), 50-tonne track machine, self-propelled turf hopper and a Volvo dump truck
“Last September, we bought a new ZeroGrazer for dairy farmers and we added an umbilical slurry system at the start of this year,” Colm reveals. “We always used tanks to spread slurry previously but with the weather now it takes too long and umbilical is the way it’s going. With the lower emissions, too, there’s more demand for that.
“We bought a one-pass seeder for sowing crops. Time is of the essence and this machine has a quicker turnaround; a lot of lads seem to like it. You always have to be aware of how the farmer is moving and thinking. Things are becoming more professional and the contractor needs to move with the times. In this regard, going forward, I’d hope that contractors will be better recognised for the professionalism of our services. There’s still a black market out there but it’s good to see loopholes being closed to help level the playing field
“We also added a new Fusion 3 baler last year and a new Big M mower this year. We also have two sets of front and back mowers and recently added the Claas Liner 2700 rake as well.
“We’ll be purchasing the new tree shear attachment for the digger in September, in time for the start of the hedge cutting season. We already have the sawing and flailing attachments and this will be another service to keep the digger moving. We’ll use the new attachment for shearing trees along the roadside. It’s safe for taking down high trees and taking off overhanging limbs.
“There’s always lots of work to do. We’ve been kept quite busy with lime spreading, too,” the affable Galway contractor concludes. “Farmers are very aware of the importance of soil quality now and lime deficiency has become a big issue for them to address. All in all, we are nice and steady throughout the year and the business is going well, so we can’t complain.”
Brady Agri Contractors Ltd.,
Tel: 086 8626888
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 6, November/December 2021