Based in Ards Little, Ramelton, Co Donegal, Bobby Doherty Agri Contracting has been providing its customers with a top-class service for over 50 years now. Irish Tractor Agri & Plant spoke with Alistair Doherty recently to discuss the ins and outs of the company, the current state of business and its hopes for the months ahead.
Having grown from humble beginnings, business continues to go strong for Bobby Doherty Agri Contracting in Co Donegal and the plan for father and son Bobby and Alistair Doherty is to try and keep things that way right through to 2023.
The family-run business has earned itself a reputation for reliability and excellent work amongst its customers down through the decades, using top of the range machinery in order to do so.
Operating out of the home base in Ards Little, Ramelton, which is 10 minutes from Letterkenny, Bobby Doherty Agri Contracting employs three full-time along with part-time staff, which varies depending on the time of year.
Irish Tractor Agri & Plant caught up with Alistair Doherty to learn more about the business and its appearance of the TG4 programme ‘Contractors’ in early 2022.
“Business is good at the moment, yeah. Considering the year that’s in it, it’s not too bad at all,” he said.
“We’d a very busy summer this year and, overall, it has been fairly steady here, but it’s just the price of stuff has been savage lately.”
By “stuff”, it’s safe to assume that Alistair means fuel and machinery costs first and foremost, with both being at perhaps an all-time high at the moment.
Bobby Doherty Agri Contracting are battling through it and even made some upgrades to their fleet in recent times.
Massey Ferguson is the choice of the tractor up in the Dohertys’ yard in Ards Little, where eight of them are operating from.
This winter will see two of the Masseys switched for upgraded versions, while a new harvester may be on the way as well but there’s nothing decided on the latter just yet.
“We’ve added a new Kuhn baler there and a new Kunn rake as well. We change the rake every three years, so we have a new one of them this year,” Alistair outlined.
“We’ve a new tanker as well and another new Kane silage trailer and a new Kane flatbed bale trailer.”
The company’s machinery was showcased on national television back in February when it featured in the popular TG4 programme ‘Contractors’.
The show covers agri contractors as they enter their busiest part of the year and, from slurry spreading to hedge cutting, ploughing to round baling, they are there to provide customers with the services they specialise in.
The works of Bobby Doherty Agri Contracting was filmed in 2021 and aired on TG4 the following February, featuring the day-to-day; including slurry spreading, reseeding and baled silage along with interviews with Alistair and some of his family members.
Looking back on it now, the Tir Chonaill native enjoyed those days in front of the TV cameras after having been apprehensive about the idea of it in the first place.
“They approached me back in 2019 and I wasn’t sure about it at the time, to be honest,” said Alistair.
“It must’ve been in 2020 then when I said ‘go on ahead’. They came up to meet me then and they came up every week then for a couple of weeks filming and it was brilliant.
“They didn’t disturb me too much. They just followed me about and when they seen I had a wee chance to speak they stopped me and chatted, so that’s how it went.”
He added: “It was a brilliant experience. It was a wee bit daunting at the start, but once ya got used to it it was grand.
“It aired in February this year and the feedback was massive from it. There was definitely a change for a while after it.”
Along with their outstanding contracting service, the Dohertys also run a family farm which is on 250 acres.
Alistair runs the enterprise alongside his father Bobby and wife Lorraine and, altogether, they’ve 280 cattle and milk 120 cows with the rest being all beef cattle.”
They also cut 2,500 acres of pit silage and make up to 11,000 round bales per year.
With around 70 per cent of their customers being dairy farmers, Bobby Doherty Agri Contracting know their needs and ensure to get the job done for them in a professional and timely manner every time.
“We do the job we say we’re gonna do and do it when we say we’re gonna do it as well. We’re punctual and do the job on time,” Alistair stated when asked why customers choose them first ahead of other competitors.
January sees Bobby Doherty Agri Contracting moving into another year and the knowledge, skill and expertise of those behind it and those working for it still remains, along with the quality of machinery they operate with.
Time and time again, Bobby, Alistair and the team in Ards Little continue to deliver a quality service for their customers.
Looking towards the months ahead for the business, Alistair himself hopes to see two things in particular improving in 2023 that would aid this family-run venture.
“The obvious one would be that fuel prices come down, but the big one is the weather.
“We can manage everything else but we can’t control the weather and it’s always our biggest concern here.
“Next year we will probably bring a lot more technology on board as well. That’s down the road though,” he concluded.
Bobby Doherty Agri Contracting
Mobile: 086 385 8358
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 1, January/February 2023