Tillage focus: Farming after your tractor has been stolen

Rock Farm Feeds was established in 1980, when Sean Doyle started selling rolled barley from his farm in the Rock, Mountmellick, Co. Laois. Today, he works with his two sons, Rory and Barry.

The business has increased in size over the years. Today, Sean explained: “Rory does most of the farming. Barry and I are in the shop a lot of the time and we have a full-time employee, Conor Dunne.”

We sell our own barley, wheat and oats.

Rock Farm Feeds also sells rations from Grennans and Liffey Mills. The shop, located on the farmyard, stocks all types of animal feeds, minerals and bedding. Straw is a big seller at this time of the year.

farm feeds

Over recent days, the Doyle family has been distracted from their regular business. On Friday, January 12, a tractor and trailer was stolen from their farm.

As it stands, the Doyles are down a tractor for delivering rations to farmers. Sean added that a payment is due on the tractor next week, but there’s no tractor in the yard.

Rory explained how normal work is being affected, adding: “We use the tractor to deliver meal to farmers. We’ll have to hire a tractor and that’s another cost.”

The Doyles have a smaller tractor, which is used to load meal and rations for customers. However, this tractor isn’t powerful enough to plough or sow.

It took us a long time to get a third tractor and now it’s gone.

Focus on rotation on the farm

Rory was clearly disillusioned by recent events, but he was positive about the farming enterprise. He is currently expanding his crop rotation and hopes to reduce weeds and improve soil fertility as a result.

He planted oilseed rape for the first time this year and is looking into sowing beans this spring.

“It’s the first year I’ve grown oilseed rape. Dad grew it a good few years ago and we’ve 18ac sown. We’ll sell it to whoever gives us the best price and we’ll probably keep the straw.

farm feeds

“We have cattle, so we can keep it for bedding or we can chop the straw onto the field with the combine.

We have sterile brome in some of the fields and the oilseed rape might help to control it. It will help to have it in the rotation to break the ground.

“I was going to put in beans, but there are talks of more malting barley contracts and if that works out we’ll grow more malting barley. Otherwise, I’ll put beans in.”

Winter crops

The Doyles planted a large amount of winter crops and are happy with their progress so far.

“We have winter wheat – after second ley – and it’s looking well. We also sowed winter barley and winter oats. We got a nice bit of winter corn in despite of the weather.

We finished sowing on December 2, after a catch crop that was sowed in September. We sprayed it off and sowed it as soon as we could.

“There was water lying on some fields, but I dug trenches across the fields to take the water off the crop.

“The winter barley looks very good. We had no problems with slugs and the birds didn’t do much damage. We’ve been lucky this year.

“The slugs attacked the oilseed rape at the beginning of the season, but it was sown early in September, after winter barley, and it was strong enough to deal with it.”

Click on a thumbnail in the gallery (below) to open up a full-size image; once opened you can scroll sideways to see the next picture.

Did you see the tractor?

The Doyle’s Massey Ferguson 6480 (12-LS-1137) and a red 20ft Broughan grain trailer, with a yellow roll-over cover and over-sized field tyres, were stolen on January 12 at 8:00pm.

The tractor and trailer were taken from a locked shed, driven through a field at the back of the farmyard and out through a gate further down the road.

farm feeds
Image source: An Garda Siochana

The tractor-trailer combo was noticed missing at 8:30am the following morning (Saturday, January 13). Sightings of the tractor were reported in Mountmellick, Mountrath and Borris-in-Ossory, Co. Laois, and in Nenagh and Birdhill, Co. Tipperary. The tractor has not been seen since.

Laois Gardai have asked anyone that sees either piece of equipment, or anyone that suspiciously acquires a Massey Ferguson 6480, to contact their local Gardai. Portlaoise Gardai can be contacted at 057-8674100.

The stolen tractor and trailer were driven across a field behind the farmyard