Born and raised on a Suckler and beef finishing enterprise near Prospect House, Macroom in Co. Cork, Henry Browne is the third contracting and farming generation within the Browne household.
The 22-year-old young farmer and contractor helps his family run not only their own Suckler cow and beef finishing enterprise, but also the family contracting business which has been in operation for over fifty years, Browne Contractors.
“We have a Suckler farm at home.” Henry told Kevin of That’sFarming.
“I would be the third-generation contracting and farming.” He added.
The Browne family keep approximately 40 Suckler cows within their herd, with all cows put to either the Simmental Stock bull or Aberdeen Angus A.I. All calves are kept on the farm for finishing, with bulls finished at 16-months and heifers finished at approximately 22-months.
“We calve about forty Sucklers every year.” Henry said.
“We keep all offspring and finish everything for the factory.” He continued.
The family generally keep continental crossbred cattle, though they do have a few Purebred Simmentals thrown in for good measure. Their farming operation is run on 122-acres in total, 62-acres of which are owned.
“They (the cattle) are mainly crossbreds, we have a lot of Simmentals. We have a few pedigree Simmentals this year too. Everything is in calf to a Simmental bull and all the heifers go in-calf to Aberdeen Angus.” Henry explained.
“We have about 62-acres at home and we rent another 60-acres,” said the Young Contractor.
Some of the family’s land holding is used for tillage purposes, with the Browne’s growing their own barley, crushing it themselves for use as feed in their finishing system.
“We grow barley and wheat. We keep it all ourselves and crush it and wheat it for rations for the Suckler cows.”Said the contractor to Kevin.
The livestock enterprise is mainly run by Henry’s brother, James, with Henry and his father, John, focusing their collective efforts on Contracting.
“My brother James is mostly into the cows.” Henry said.
History of Browne Contractors/Henry’s journey -
Both the farming and contracting ventures were ones started over five decades ago by Henry’s grandfather, Harry.
“It was started about fifty years ago,” said Henry of the contracting business.
“My grandfather started it,” he added.
Harry ran the show and began his contracting adventure with mowing work carried out in the locality before he then added hay baling to the list of services provided. Harry ran proceedings until Henry’s father, John, was of age to return home and departed from school. He then, in turn, took the reins and has been behind the wheel ever since.
“He went hay baling then and grew fairly big at one stage.” Said Henry of his grandfather.
“Dad left school early and went working with my grandfather.” He continued.
For Henry, the dream to follow in both his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps was one developed at a very early age. In fact, the Corkonian got his first taste of life in a machine at the tender age of three or four and he hasn’t looked back.
“I can remember being three or four up in tractors going away with dad.” Henry explained.
“As long as I can remember, I have been stuck in machinery.” He laughed.
Although keen to return home and work alongside his father as soon as possible, Henry first took in a trip to C.I.T. where he studied Automotive technology and transport management, a three-year-course.
“I did automotive technology and transport management in C.I.T.”
This course Henry completed just a few months ago and the 22-year-old has been at home in Macroom ever since, working behind the wheel alongside his father, John.
“I am back a couple of months now.” He said.
The main core of Browne Contractors is Henry himself and his father, John. They are also helped out by two other full-time employees, with four-five extra drivers taken on during the busier summer months.
“It is mainly myself and John, but there are two full-time lads with us as well.” Henry said.
“We have four or five part-timers with us then during the summer.” He continued.
Together, the team of Browne Contractors cover a distance of up to 25kms from their home farm and the main focus of their work is baled silage. They offer the full services from start to finish (mowing, raking, baling, wrapping) and even offer ploughing, power harrowing and reseeding services too.
“We do a bit of reseeding and ploughing too and spread dung as well.” said Henry.
“We do a bit of everything.”
As well as that, they spread slurry using a Hi-Spec tanker, whilst they also offer cereal combine services with their John Deere Harvester. The family even carry out their own tillage work.
“We do a bit of cereal combining as well.” Henry noted.
That’s not where the work ends for the Browne family either, as they also carry out a lot of plant-related work. Together they cover all types of site work, within construction and agriculture, whilst they also carry out a lot of concrete-related work. They also offer land reclamation and drainage services, the building of roadways and slatted house fittings. The family also have maintenance contracts with local Pharmaceutical factories too, meaning they are always on the go.
“We do all type of groundworks, foundations and work like that, concrete work…We do a lot of concrete work for farmers, finishing off cubicle beds and the likes of that,” Henry explained to Kevin.
“We have maintenance contracts then as well in Pharmaceutical factories.” The contractor added.
In terms of the machinery, the Browne’s are currently operating with a fleet of five tractors, all John Deere.
Tractors: John Deere 6630, John Deere 6630, John Deere 5820, John Deere 2650, John Deere 3650.
Grass: John Deere 644 baler, John Deere 1360 mower. McHale 991 wrapper. John Deere 6710 silage Harvester. John Deere 965 combine.
Other: Hi Spec 2,000-gallon slurry tanker. Kverneland 4-furrow reversible plough. Amazone power harrow. Doosan Track Machine. Yanmar mini-digger. Ruscon Dung Spreader 10t.
“My father is a mad John Deere man and his father was the same, they were all John Deere’s.” said Henry of why the family choose John Deere.
“A lot of the cultivating equipment is all home-built. The leveler, for example, is home-built.” Henry states.
Future Aspirations -
In terms of the future, Henry and the Browne family have no major changes in line for the coming months, though Henry admits they may look into upgrading the John Deere 5820. The family are also looking into the purchase of a SlurryKat dribble bar.
“The contracting will probably stay the same.” Henry admitted.
“We are buying a dribble bar, a SlurryKat tanker with a dribble bar…The 5820 will probably go soon enough too, We will take it how it comes and see how the year goes,”
On the plant side of things, Henry says the family are looking to push on in this side of the business and will subsequently add another digger to their ranks. He also noted that they plan to get deeper involved in the maintenance of Pharmaceutical factories.
“We will probably add another digger.” He told Kevin Forde of That’sFarming.
On a personal note, Fresh after completing his degree, Henry is contemplating adding to his ever-expanding knowledge, though that is further down the line.
“I was thinking of doing the fourth year in the transport management course...It is something to consider down the line, depending on what way the business goes.” He noted.
On the livestock front, the family will continue with their Suckler and beef enterprise for the foreseeable future, more than content with their system in place. They will also stick to the forty-cow mark, as they are currently close to their maximum stocking rate.
Why Contracting -
Driven by a source of pride in knowing he is continuing something started by his father and grandfather before him, Henry simply loves what he does.
“It’s in the family and I am following in dad’s and my grandfather’s footsteps.” Said Henry of why he loves what he does.
“I am a mad outdoors person and very hands on, I just couldn’t sit down all day.”
Henry also admits to having green/silage fever, which is a major factor behind his deep passion for contracting. He also enjoys the variety of the work and admits that a career working “with the books” would simply not suit him.
“I also enjoy the variety of the work.” he admitted.
Passionate, dedicated and as hardworking as they come, Mr. Henry Browne will continue doing what he does best for many years to come. Here's to another fifty years of the Browne's contracting!
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