Cunningham Agri Contractors fully focused on farmers’ needs

12 Sep , 2023  

For a dozen years and counting, Cunningham Agri Contractors have been delivering a full range of prompt, efficient and professional agri contracting services to meet the exact needs of farmers within a 30km radius of Tuam in County Galway. We headed west and caught up with founder and proprietor Barry Cunningham to find out more about this exceptional family business.

With a strong appreciation of Ireland’s proud agricultural heritage, Cunningham Agri Contractors provides unbeatable traditional contracting services to dairy and dry stock farmers in and around the lush western hinterland of Tuam in County Galway.

Founder Barry Cunningham is also aware of the importance of considering the present and the future, and that’s why his contracting outfit continues to move with the times through regular investment in bigger and better machinery in order to ensure faster and more efficient solutions. All of this, of course, is music to the ears of his ever-increasing core of satisfied customers.

Reflecting on the genesis of Cunningham Agri Contractors, which he established twelve years ago, Barry states: “I bought a tractor – a Massey Ferguson 6480 – and a tanker and agitator and went out spreading slurry. I always made sure to give a really good service and the business just grew from there and we took on more and more jobs.”

Today, Barry runs a very impressive fleet of machinery, which gets bigger and better with each passing year. At the engine-room of the operation are four magnificent Deutz tractors. Why the preference for Deutz? “My father had one on the home farm and it was very reliable. I also saw a lot of other local contractors working them, so I started buying them myself and they have worked out very well.

“We initially bought them in County Meath but in more recent years I’ve been buying them much closer to home, second-hand off MH Services in Corbally, Claregalway, who also handles all my servicing, mechanical work and breakdowns, etc.”

Since the very first day in business, Cunningham Agri Contractors has been synonymous with high-quality slurry spreading, which is still one of Barry’s main activities today, as well as mowing, baling, raking, ploughing and reseeding. Barry and his father, Willie – who are also in partnership back home on the family farm, where they keep sheep and drystock cattle – work full time in the contracting business, while additional experienced and knowledgeable personnel are brought in when the pressure rises during peak times.

Barry runs three slurry tankers with dribble bars – a pair of 2,600-gallon Hi-Spec tankers with seven-and-a-half metre Agquip dribble bars recently supplemented with the addition of a larger 3,500-gallon Red Rock tandem axle tank with nine-metre Agquip dribble bar. For slurry, the Galway contractor also has a Mastek umbilical pipe system – a ten-metre dribble bar with 1,400 metres of piping, not forgetting the Cross rear discharge muck spreader for spreading dung.

While slurry is Cunningham Agri Contractors’ main activity, they do much, much more besides! Elsewhere in the fleet, one can find a McHale Fusion 3 for baling. For reseeding, a four-furrow reversible plough, three-metre Mandam disc harrow and Kuhn three-metre power harrow with Doyle air seeder on top, while a new SMS direct drill grass seeder was recently purchased from DH Farm Machinery in Gort.

“We are always investing and that’s how it has got to be – you have to continue upgrading and improving your machinery,” says Barry. “If you don’t keep getting bigger and better, you are going nowhere. We changed the disc harrow this year, bought the grass stitcher and also bought a second-hand Deutz in January – a Deutz Agrotron 140 with Quicke loader.

“I also added front and back Claas mowers to the baling outfit this year and I’m very happy with them. I have a Krone disc mower too but the double mowers are my main mowers now. They are a big step up from the Kverneland trailed mower and mowing times have sped up considerably.

“The reason for the bigger tanker – 3,500-gallon over 2,600 – and the double mowers is so that I can do more myself as it’s so hard these days to get lads. When you have bigger machines, you can take on more work and get through it quicker.”

Farming and contracting are very much in Barry Cunningham’s DNA and he probably couldn’t have timed the formation of Cunningham Agri Contractors much better: “Around the time I started, the dairy men really started to expand locally,” he recounts. “As they couldn’t take on their own work, they started to get contractors in and we were lucky enough to get a good customer base early on with a lot of big dairy farmers. We do all their slurry, reseeding and baling work and also have two McHale tedders (a six-rotor tedder and eight-rotor tedder) and ted between 2,000 and 2,500 acres of grass a year.

“In my father’s early days contracting, he made small square bales and did other small bits and bobs around the area. Before that, my grandfather was involved in the sugar beet factory in Tuam and drew a lot of beet from local farms. So the Cunningham name was well known already long before I set up the business and kicked it on.”

Ultimately, contracting is all about service. “You have to provide an excellent service to farmers and do the work promptly in the manner they need it done,” Barry concurs. “Having good relationships with farmers is important, and working together and keeping each other informed as to what needs to be done. I try to keep good relationships with them and to plan ahead in so far as is possible.

“Weather is everything, though, and farmers get very panicky when the weather is bad,” the affable Galway man concludes. “And unfortunately we can only be in one place at any given time. Normally, I would know a week in advance where I am going to be going the following week but there will always be the odd surprise along the way.

“From early May through to July is a very hectic time and it’s also very busy in January when the slurry opens, but it all passes quickly and you get through it. If you are kept going at a steady pace for the rest of the year, then you will be more than happy.”

Cunningham Agri Contractors,


County Galway.

Tel: 087 7792129

Email: [email protected]

First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 4, August/September 2023