AgriLand paid a visit to Gorey, Co. Wexford, to catch up with Thomas Poole – a contractor who’s put together a silage outfit of his own, having previously worked for another contractor.

Our camera-man spoke to Thomas to find out what prompted him to take this step and how his recently-acquired ’99-reg Claas Jaguar 820 is faring.

He explained: “I got into pit silage here last year. I bought an [Claas Jaguar] 820 off Kellys of Borris. Donal Kelly is driving her here today. She’s going well.”

He continued: “I got into pit silage because I was working for a man and he retired from pit silage. From there I bought a [New Holland] TM120 and an 8360, which is here drawing today.

I had been drawing for the man that I was driving the harvester for; I had two tractors and trailers hired in to him.

Talking about the decision to buy the 820, Thomas said: “I had my eye on a harvester back in the years a little bit – to take over the silage from the man that was retiring. I was in Kellys of Borris and I found this 820; I bought it.

‘Straight to work’

“We went straight to work; it was coming into the silage season. Kellys did a few bits on it for me. We got on well – just a few little problems with the pick-up; a few small bearings went.

“Kellys have great service; I can’t praise them enough. The store-man was there one night at 12:00 when we got a breakdown; we had the harvester going again the next morning cutting at 8:00.

“She’s not mad horsepower – she’s 300hp. We’re cutting about 60-70ac a day; she won’t be able for any more than that. That’s her going rate; I like that…because we have three trailers; my loading shovel is a [JCB] Farm Master 412; I like to keep it small.

“If you were to ask me whether I was going to get much bigger the answer would be no. I have room for another few customers and I’d leave it at that.

“I’m not going to go up to a harvester of 600hp and take on a couple of thousand acres. I can’t see it; I’m going to keep going the way I’m going – keep the finance small.

If I’m working late at night, I like to work for myself – not the finance man.

Thomas went on to explain the ins and outs of the 820. On getting her prepped for this season, he commented: “There’s no point getting the harvester ready when you get a phone-call and silage is on the ground.”

He added: “If I go to a bigger harvester, I’d probably have to change everything else – and if silage is going into a pit too fast it’s not being rolled enough. The secret to pit silage is to roll it…and get lots of rolling.”

On the topic of getting through work day-to-day, he joked: “I just like to see silage coming out of that chute the whole time…and I’m happy.”