Jamie Byrd is from Kilnaleck, Co. Cavan, where he runs Byrd Agricultural Contractors in partnership with his father Brendan.
At twenty-five-years-old, Jamie lives at home and shares the work on their dairy farm, dividing his time between farming and contracting. Jamie and his brother Gavin are the fourth generation to work the dairy farm from the homeplace in Cavan. Jamie completed his green cert in Ballyhaise in 2012.Jamie’s father and business partner Brendan, first set up the contracting business about eighteen years ago as he had always a great interest in machinery. He started working with a relative when he was a young man and always had work with a couple of different contractors.
“It started with doing slurry and I guess it went from there into tillage,” said Jamie. “He’s had a good run of it, we’re lucky to have very loyal customers” he added.
The list of services supplied by Byrd Agricultural Contractors includes Slurry spreading; Round Bailing; Pit Silage with a self - propelled forage Harvester; Mowing; Raking; Umbilical slurry with dribble bar on floatation wheels; Dump trailer hire and Digger Hire. “We do a bit of everything,” said Jamie.
They have plenty of machinery too that helps them to complete jobs efficiently and on time. They have a couple of high-spec tankers in the yard, but It’s only their second year using the Mastek umbilical system and a dribble bar, but the contractors are seeing great favouritism towards the machine.
Jaimie said, “It really took off, we can see that both last year and this year, were quite busy with it”. As we know, there are advantages to using this type of system on a farm, weight, speed and higher work-rates are attributed to these machines.
Jamie continued, “All our tractors are New Holland, we have four of them”. The tractors are a T7.200, a T7.210, and then we have two TM’s as well”.
The list also includes a CLAAS Jaguar 890 self-propelled forage harvester; two McHale round balers - F5500 & F550, land mowers, land rakes and a Hitachi EX125 excavator.
Family Ties Not only do the father and son go out on contract work every day, but they manage a busy, 50-cow Holstein dairy-farm as well. The milking must be done before they set out for work.
Jamie helps his father with this in the morning, but Brendan usually takes on this job solo in the evenings as Jamie is often caught out doing contracting jobs. Brendan’s other son Gavin would normally be at hand to help on the farm, however, he left for Australia just last week.
It’s not just the immediate family who benefit from working on the farm as Jamie’s cousins go out with the family company during the summer months. “We sometimes hire in extra help and maybe one or two tractors as well during the summer, just for a couple of weeks when we’re busy” explained Jamie.
Jamie loves his farming lifestyle and enjoys getting out and about with the machinery. “I wouldn’t do anything else, I love doing the slurry and silage, I like getting away on the digger too,” enthused Jamie, who was busy for most of the winter using it. Jamie mostly takes care of the round-bailing as well as the slurry, while Brendan and Gavin usually look after the silage.Dairy
Jamie plans to stay on in partnership with his father into the future and said that he feels lucky, having had very few obstacles in his way, “It’s challenging to get into dairy now unless you have the right set-up, it’s very hard to stay in it. I know that I wouldn’t. Unless you already have the right approach to working it, it would be very difficult”.
The Byrd family have successfully managed to operate both their agricultural contractors’ business with their dairy farm where they use an eight-unit herringbone system.
Ever expanding and improving, they have added new sheds and installed new calving pens last year for their year-round calving structure. Cows are AI’d to Holstein-Friesian sires and empty breeding females are covered by an Aberdeen-Angus or Hereford stock bull.
The two businesses complement each other both during the busy summer months and in the slower winter periods. As a family, the Byrds understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use this knowledge to their advantage.
With good time management, and new generations joining the farm, the Byrds will be a big name in local agriculture for years to come.
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