A dry stock farmer, contractor AND secondary school teacher, Danny Moran most certainly has his hands full.
The 31-year-old hails from near Balla in Co. Mayo, where he and his family run a bull to beef system, buying bull weanlings and finishing them at 16-months old. Danny’s father, John, had previously run the farm after taking it over back in the ’70s and the family had run a herd of Suckler cows up until recent times.
“We come from a Suckler farming background mainly.” Danny Moran explained.
“Dad would have had a Suckler herd all the way through.” He continued.
Upon taking over the farm from his father John in recent years, Danny’s full-time career off-farm and the dwindling profit margins meant that they could no longer continue with their Suckler enterprise, instead making the switch to dry stock.
“I changed about five years ago from Suckling to dry stock.” The contractor explained to Kevin of That’sFarming.
“The Sucklers were costing a lot of money, with cows not keeping in-calf and that. We were finding it pretty hard to keep it going financially…We then made the decision to change to dry stock farming and we have been doing that ever since.” He added.
Danny now runs the livestock enterprise alongside his brother, Joe, after the passing of his father John in recent years. Together they now run a bull to beef system, buying bull weanlings in from his local mart (Balla) and finishing them at 16-months, all the while housed indoors. Danny aims to have a six-month turnaround for any stock bought in for finishing.
“It is all bull beef we are doing at the minute.” said the farmer.
“I normally buy the bulls in as Weanlings and we finish most of them. It is kind of a six-month turn-around I do. I buy them in at 300-400kgs and kill them off at around 16-months…I buy all of the cattle in Balla”
He mainly keeps continental crossbreeds, focusing his buying on Limousine, Simmental and Charolais crossbreeds. His current preferred crossbreed is a Simmental-Charolais, though Danny admits they are few and far between at the moment.
“I had tried heifers before, but its just the weight gain is the big thing with the bulls.” Danny noted.
“They do eat an awful lot of meal, but they do convert it fairly efficiently…I mainly go for the Limousine, Simmental and Charolais crosses…I would like to buy more Simmental-Charolais crosses for finishing if I could, but there are not as many of them around this side of the country.” he added.
All forage fed to the livestock on the farm in Co. Mayo is grown by the Moran family themselves, which works out well seeing as they themselves are contractors.
“The good thing about the line of business we are in, we are able to save and cut haylage ourselves and that is the predominant bit of forage I am feeding them…We make fodder for ourselves and then sell some silage as well” Danny said.
“I find that I can finish the bulls fairly easily. I was able to finish bulls last year between 70-90 days.” He added.
How it all Began/Danny’s journey -
For Danny, the interest in machinery was one inherited from his father John and it was his father who commenced the family’s involvement with machinery.
“Dad would have always had small bits of machinery and I kind of took that over,” said Danny.
“I always had an interest in the machinery side of things,” he added.
Danny said that he and his brother Joe have been driving tractors since they were able to reach the pedals. Although their father, John, was the man responsible for the family having machinery, it was his sons who made the family’s real-start within the contracting sector.
“Dad would have thought us (how to drive) from a young age.” Danny stated.
“We have been driving for a number of years now…We more or less started it off, as we were a lot more into the machinery.”
Danny admits that the Moran family kind of “fell into” a career in contracting by accident, not that he minds one bit. They began their contracting venture with work carried out on their own farm, in the shape of mowing and tedding and the rest, as they say, is history.
“We kind of fell into it by accident.” He said.
“We would have been cutting and tedding our own grass and gradually it kind of built up and then we had one or two neighbours asking us to do one or two jobs for them. It just escalated from there.”
Although always keen to work in the cab of one of the family’s machines, Danny first took in an educational trip and set off on his journey to becoming a Secondary school teacher. He currently works off-farm as a full-time secondary school teacher in Achill, Co. Mayo, meaning the contracting enterprise is run on a part-time basis alongside his brother Joe.
“It is all done on a part-time basis. Myself and my brother Joe would be doing the majority of the work.” Danny says.
“I am teaching also as well, so we run this on the side. It suits both of us really, as it’s something we both had an interest in.”
The pair of brothers have now been working together under the Moran Agri services title for almost seven years.
What is unusual about the team of Moran Agri Services, which is mainly made up of Danny and his brother Joe, is that instead of focusing on pit or baled silage, they focus their collective contracting efforts solely on Mowing, tedding, grass stitching, reseeding and bale handling and haulage services.
“We mainly focus on cutting grass, tedding grass, stitching and reseeding and bale haulage” the contractor stated.
(Some of the recent work carried out by Danny and the team)
This allows them to work side-by-side with other neighbouring contractors.
“We work with a number of the local contractors around about and some of their customers they refer onto us as well. It works well for us.” Danny said.
Danny said farmers have been lauding the benefits of tedding grass and have noticed the difference in the quality of their silage.
"We found farmers much happier with the DMD of their silage afterwards with little or no waste. It's become much more widespread in recent years. Also the Tine Harrowing; it has lots of benefits, not least the overall price for a reseed which is a fraction that of ploughing with the same results." he said.
"We've also found farmers were keen to increase soil aeration by removing weeds and moss, so we've done quite a bit of that too. Regrowth afterward is thicker. We also purchased a double bale handler with side lift from Blue Bull Engineering last October to speed up the bale haulage and stacking, allowing us to bring 14 bales wrapped and undamaged to the farmyard. We're looking to expand in the coming years with one or two projects earmarked." he added.
The team of Moran Agri services also offer dump trailer work, transporting any load capable of fitting into their 14x7 Woods dump trailer. This was another part of the industry that the family almost ‘fell into’ and now makes up a sizeable portion of their business, particularly in winter months.
“It began with word of mouth locally and it went from there.” The Mayo man told Kevin.
“Two years ago, we bought a Woods 14x7 Tandem axle tipping trailer with the bale extension on it and that really kicked off the bale haulage side of things and dump trailer side of things... "Quarry work has been a big part of the dump trailer work and is all year round, with farmers liking the smaller quantities up to 12ton, while also allowing them to be tipped in the yard, field etc.,” He continued.
Recent entries into the sector, the team of Moran Agri Services currently operate with one tractor of their own, with a further two hired in during busier months.
“We only have the one tractor ourselves that we use, but we hired out a couple of tractors last year and it is something that we will do again this year.” Danny explains.
Tractors: Deutz Fahr Agrofarm 100.
Grass: Pottinger HIT 6.61 tedder (6 rotor - bought last year). Rakeman Tine harrow for reseeding and stitching. Lely Splendimo mower.
Other: 14x7 Woods tandem axle tipping trailer with bale extension.
“We found that the tipping trailer made a huge difference…It made it so much easier…The trailer has been a really good investment and is something we will be looking to push on a bit more,” said Danny of transporting bales with their Woods trailer.
“The tine harrowing has caught on where lads want to do minimal destruction to the ground…The Pottinger tedder, which was bought last year, is the newest addition to the fleet,” Danny added.
Future of Moran Agri -
In terms of the future, Danny and his brother Joe hope to continue their gradual progression within the industry, with expansion always to the forefront of all plans. This could see the contracting duo taking on some part-time staff over the coming months.
“We probably will hire in one or two lads over the summer if things do pick up.” Danny noted.
The Morans will look to “push-on” the transport work offered via their Woods trailer over the coming twelve months, while they have also no intention of getting out of livestock any time soon.
“We are going to keep going with the bulls.” Danny admitted.
One thing the Moran family will look to ensure in 2019, is the continued satisfaction of their loyal customer base.
“We are hoping to consolidate the customer base we have at the minute…We have a good customer base and we want to keep that and push on a bit more with the bale haulage and the tedding side of things in the summer. That would be our main focus.” Danny said.
In terms of machinery, Danny says the next time due an upgrade within the fleet is the family’s trusted tractor.
“We are hoping to change the tractor, that is the next thing on the agenda to get a tractor with a bit more horsepower and a bit more weight.” Danny noted.
“We’ll see where it goes from there then.”
Why is Danny so passionate about contracting?
For the Moran brothers and Danny in particular, there was always some interest in working within the agriculture sector.
They now operate their contracting business with an element of pride. Pride in flying the family name and in continuing the livestock enterprise first took on by their father almost fifty years ago. It is this pride and a real passion for machinery that keeps Danny and his brother behind the wheel, that and the satisfaction in knowing a job is well done.
“It is not that you make a whole pile of money out of it, it is just something we both like doing.” Danny said.
“It is good for the head as well as everything else…It is nice that the two of us can do it as well, we both enjoy it and we work well together. When your doing that and are happy are what your doing, things will go ok.” Danny concluded.
Proud, passionate and so hard working that one career is not enough to quench his appetite for work, Mr. Danny Moran, Moran Agri Services.
Would you like to contact Danny or one of the team members of Moran Agri Services? If so, you can do that via their official Facebook page here.
Are you a contractor like Danny? Or working behind the wheel for a contractor? Fancy sharing your story and being featured in our series? If this sounds like you, then contact Kevin with a short bio via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.