Gavin John Delany helps run PH farms Agri & AgriFeeds in Fethard, Co. Tipperary. A third generation contractor, here he helps run the family’s 800-acre tillage farm with his father, as well as the contracting business and a feed operation.
Gavin finished college in 2015, after three years in the Cork Institute, where Gavin completed a level 7 Agricultural studies course. From here he returned home to help run the operations with his father.
“I didn’t stay on to do the level 8, as I saw an opportunity at home and decided to take it”, said Gavin.
There are six involved in this team, with one full-time employee, as well as Gavin and his father, and three more men who come in on a part-time basis.
“We have one full-time man all year round and up to three part-time staff”, he said.
“We have one man with us during the winter also, depending on his own farm. If he wasn’t busy during the day he would come over to us”, said Gavin
“We all have good working relations in the yard...We all get on well...there’s always a bit of craic” he says.
The team run with an extensive range of machinery. They have a John Deere 7840, a T7 200 New Holland, John Deere 6830 and a John Deere 6600.
They also have two telescopic loading shovels too to help with the feed side of things, while their combine Harvester is a John Deere 2256.
The team also have their own mill on the farm, which Gavin helped set up upon his return from college. Here the team uses barley, wheat and oats, all grown by the Delany’s, to help produce top quality feed for local farmers.
“We have our own mill on the farm, which we use to provide feed to local farmers”, he said.
“We are feed merchants. We buy in feed and barley and beet, roll it and sell it back out to farmers” he added.
The team also offer straw haulage services, as well as making silage for local farmers.
“We do a lot of straw haulage and make silage as well”, says Gavin
“We also carry out a lot of dung spreading as well”, he said.
They handle about 7,000 tonnes of grain a year in the yard, meaning they are busy during winter months. This time of the year sees the team flat out with straw deliveries, while they were dung spreading quite a bit up until the window closed recently.
“Drawing straw, drawing grain, crimping...while we actually have a diet feeder on hire too… they(farmers) supply the silage and beet and we feed it our for the winter. We’re not all Tillage.”, he laughs.
“We do a lot of contract work, where we do a lot of contract farming for farmers. Basically the farmer supplies the land and we supply the machinery. ” he said.
Gavin says this works well and helps them with the problem of land. Gavin says land is going to be a major problem, especially for the tillage sector, as it’s gone too dear. He said this system cuts out the risks involved for the farmer AND the contractor.
“It’s even cutting out the risk for the man renting the land” he stated.
The plan as always is expansion, with Gavin admitting the team are constantly on the hunt for “new opportunities”. The team hope to keep expanding the mill as much as they can, as he feels the feed industry is set to take off, with the recent expansion in the dairy sector.
“I reckon, silage, fodder crops, and feed are going to get scarce” he warned.
“Even up the West of Ireland, there aren’t many growing Tillage anymore. Barley is going to be a big problem”, he said.
The team lost approximately 100 acres of straw this year, with weather being the main problem facing the team. He said the fodder crisis is real, with many “paying through the nose for it”.
“I lost about 100 acres of straw this year, we couldn’t bale...This year (weather-wise) was a disaster, we suffered” he exclaimed.
“We managed away, but weather definitely challenged us this year, said Gavin.
He listed diesel prices as another challenge facing them, with the constant fluctuating prices causing a problem.
“When diesel prices were dear, it was very hard to manage...You have to leave an area for the fluctuation of diesel prices”, he said.
He also said worker numbers are going to be a real problem facing the industry as a whole, but the contracting game also.
“It's hard to get good men”, he said.
Grain prices, like to every Tillage farmer, cause a problem for the team and was, in fact, part of the reason they went down the feed route.
“We were getting such a demand for our own feed, we had to start buying in grain” he adds.
“From eight o’clock in the morning to eight in the evening the phone doesn’t stop ringing” he laughs.
Why he loves what he does:
“It’s a passion for machinery”, he said when asked why he loves contracting.
“None of us are going to be millionaires out of it, but going out having satisfied customers and the rewards to be gotten out of it” he lists as reasons why he loves the game.
“It’s more of a passion than anything and having a good relationship with the customers means a lot to people...there’s a drive to have it”, he adds.
The Tipperary man has a real thirst for the industry and a real love for the work he carries out. He and his team operate not one, but many businesses on the one farm to great effect. They are kept busy, but not that Gavin minds, as he sees everything as a golden opportunity.
“Everyday is a new opportunity and you just have to hit it and be prepared to hit it when it comes up”, he states.