In the blood

5 Aug , 2015  

With a proud family tradition in agriculture that goes back over seven decades, the current generation at Kehoe Farming offer a diverse range of products and services to customers in County Wexford and nationwide. We met up with director Willie John Kehoe to take a closer look at this multifaceted operation.

Kehoe Farming, based at Bryanstown, Foulksmills, County Wexford stocks a range of agricultural products, including the innovative,  FibreGold animal / horse feed and KosiBed horse / livestock bedding.

Grown on their own farm in the heart of some of the most fertile and naturally productive land in Ireland, these products offer quality high roughage; natural diet; and a clean, dust free bedding for animals across all the seasons.

These products have been developed to complement the contracting side of the Kehoe Farming business, which dates back to the early 1940s and is still going strong today. Willie John Kehoe, the third generation of this exceptional family business, reflects on the genesis of Kehoe Farming Ltd.:

“We started off in contracting and offered a full range of contracting services. For a long time, we were one of the leading beet harvesters in Ireland as well as harvesting maize. When the beet started to disappear, we saw the need to diversify. In 2006, we set up the yard at Bryanstown and began making horse bedding from straw and have since diversified further into the production of animal feed. Approved by the Department of Agriculture, we now manufacture and sell bulk feed and have a range of bagged feed products for calves, horses, etc.”

Kehoe Farming place a strong emphasis on the quality and consistency of all feeds produced. Haylage or horsehage feeds are grown naturally and ensiled at the optimum stage in the drying process, ensuring a consistent pathogen-free product.

Kehoe’s heat-treated horse chaff is made from dust- and pathogen-free ingredients and is the perfect equine feed supplement where you need to add roughage to a horse’s diet to avoid digestive problems. Whatever a horse’s nutritional needs might be – whether they own a racehorse or a child’s pony – FibreGold feed offers consistent quality.

FibreGold compound feeds for dairy, calf, beef and sheep is designed to increase feed efficiency and manufactured in a specially-designed and proven Keenan Mech Fibre mixing plant, which is fitted with the PACE system.

Likewise, the company’s self-produced dust-free horse and animal bedding is of a similarly premium quality. Acknowledging that the quality of the environment that animals are housed in is critical to their overall health and performance, Kehoe Farming’s animal and equine bedding products are second to none, delivering a healthy dust-free environment. KosiBed is also suitable for poultry and pets.

For dairy farmers, Kehoe Farming offers KosiBed Livestock Bedding, a dust extracted, cost effective, convenient, chopped straw cubicle-bedding with added lime product. The result is the ideal product to maintain a clean, dry and mastitis-free cubicle bed for cows, for use with or without mats.

While the animal bedding, feeds and agri products side of the business has taken off, a top-class agricultural contracting service is still provided.

“We’re still doing as much contracting work as we can,” Willie John confirms. “We cover all of south Wexford providing a wide range of services including tillage work; grass, maize and wholecrop silage; baling and wrapping; dung spreading; contract spreading etc.

In the contracting end of it, three men are employed as well as the Kehoe family themselves. Across Kehoe Farming, there are 10-15 people employed full time and a range of part timers who come in during the busy sowing and harvest season.

Willie John currently runs the business alongside his father and brother. He explains: “Our father, Martin Kehoe Snr. is the boss. He turned 65 this year and has been farming all his life. Then there’s myself and Martin Jnr. Our grandfather Willie Kehoe started the whole thing off. He would have primarily done farming but he also did some small jobs on neighbouring farms. But it was Martin Kehoe Snr. who started the contracting in a serious way.”

The Kehoe family have a proud tradition in Ploughing, Martin Senior has achieved the World Title on three occasions. In turn, his sons Willie John and Martin Jnr, have both won National Ploughing Titles and Willie John has represented Ireland at World Competitions on three occasions.

Fleet-wise, the Kehoes currently run a total of 13 tractors from 45 to 270 horsepower, including Cases (1950, 1170, 270, 240), Claases (697, 420) and one Valmet 8950 reverse drive. They also operate a JCB 416 loader, Claas 7045 teleporter, Volvo L50 loader, Claas 980 forage harvester and two John Deere combines. All equipment is maintained in perfect running order at all times. “We have our own workshop, where we handle a lot of our own mechanical work, while the specialist stuff would go back to the main dealer,” says Willie John.

What would Kehoe Farming look for in machinery when they are sourcing it? “It’s down to reliability, the ability to do the job properly, and to be able to perform in Irish conditions, which are amongst the worst in the world. If it works in Ireland, it’ll work anywhere!

“Obviously, you try to buy the best and what suits your business. After that it’s down to reliability, serviceability and the ability to do the job properly.
“For raking grass, we have a Roc Merger, which is unique to Ireland and which breaks up the grass, without stones, at high speed. The result is that you get better quality silage with no clay.

“We also do our own tillage. We own 68 acres and farm 500 acres in total, 100 acres of this is grass for haylage.”

Regarding the bedding / feeds aspect of the business, Willie John concludes: “It’s growing the whole time and – unlike the contracting – it’s not weather-dependent. It’s a part of the business that’s expanding, while the contracting is slowing down because there aren’t as many farmers in the area looking for contractors – some of them have retired or have been taken over, while others are choosing to do the work themselves.

“Having said that, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of customer loyalty down through the years and still do. At the end of the day, customer loyalty is what every business depends on.”

Kehoe Farming
County Wexford.

Telephone: 051 565588
Mobile: 087 2832443

Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 2 No 7, December 2014