Malcolm Hynd recently spoke on behalf of DS Hynd and Sons to The Scottish Farmer about their busy agricultural contracting business, which is based at Hillfoot Farm, Coupar Angus.


Grandfather, Robert Hynd took on the tenancy of the 48 acres No 11 Holding, Hillfoot, around 1931. He farmed the holding until 1950 when his eldest son, Donald Shaw Hynd, then took over the tenancy.

The Scottish Farmer: The Hynd teamThe Hynd team

By the mid-70s the farm had expanded to 110 acres of arable land and a further 100 acres of rough grazing, which roughly coincided with his sons, Donald and Malcolm, completing their education and starting work at Hillfoot.

The Scottish Farmer: Bale wrapping is another service the family offerBale wrapping is another service the family offer

The partnership of DS Hynd and Sons was subsequently drawn up and is the business name in use today. At that time, there was not enough work on the farm to justify all three of them being at home, so Donald and Malcolm started undertaking contracting jobs for neighbours with kit they used on their own farm.

The Scottish Farmer: Baling in the sunshineBaling in the sunshine

With the increased bank borrowings that followed the purchase of the farm in 1983, the contracting business brought in much needed and essential income.

The Scottish Farmer: Combine harvester is another huge service that is busy throughout the summerCombine harvester is another huge service that is busy throughout the summer

Sowing grain became a major part of the business in 1987 when the business purchased a pneumatic seed drill. This part of the business has continued to expand to the point where we now run a cultivator drill and a power harrow drill.

The Scottish Farmer: Stewart trailers are a great asset to the teamStewart trailers are a great asset to the team

As is the way of these things, when the cultivator drill was purchased, a larger tractor was also bought to operate this and then to utilise the tractor throughout the summer months, a forage harvester was also added to the inventory list. Now, the team can offer the complete silage service as well as baling and wrapping.

The Scottish Farmer: The tractors and trailers already to go to the grassThe tractors and trailers already to go to the grass

How many staff do you have?

It is a very much a family affair, with brothers Donald and Malcolm, and Don’s son, Alistair. He began working for DS Hynd and Sons after leaving college in 2003 and became a partner in 2009.

We also have reliable part-time guys we can call on at the peak times of year.

The Scottish Farmer: Silage is a busy time on the farm for the familySilage is a busy time on the farm for the family

What areas do you cover?

We tend to run around a 10-15 mile radius as there is plenty of demand for contracting in our area. However, the furthest we travel will be 30 miles.

The Scottish Farmer: Blue skies for combingBlue skies for combing

What did you do in order to grow the business?

We had to get our name out there which we did through word of mouth. Sometimes one job can lead to another, so you always have to work hard and offer a high-quality service to grow your business.

The Scottish Farmer: One of the most profitable jobs is combing One of the most profitable jobs is combing

What keeps you busiest throughout the year?

In the spring, it is sowing grain. Everything is very seasonal and, for instance, during the summer months we are busy with grass silage.

We have been steady since the mid-1980s with our two combine harvesters, however they are starting to age a little bit now. They are not easy to keep up to date given the expense of buying new machines.

We also still grow our own potatoes so have the equipment for doing that too.

The Scottish Farmer: Cutting silage with the forage wagon is another service the Hynd brothers offerCutting silage with the forage wagon is another service the Hynd brothers offer

The two Bunning muck spreaders also have spinning deck hoods which are good for spreading digestate, pellets, chicken litter, gypsum, or just good old ordinary farmland manure.

We use a Massey Ferguson tractor and loader with a weigh system on it for the spreading jobs so we can weigh as we go. This is a huge advantage nowadays due to application rates in many situations being of critical importance.

What keeps you busy throughout the winter?

There are always still general contracting jobs on the go like ploughing, dung spreading etc. We also have 30 cows which are housed inside during the winter, so need fed daily by someone.

The Scottish Farmer: The Kuhn baler ready for action The Kuhn baler ready for action

Most profitable job?

Something that uses the old tractors – they have already earned their keep, so their income in relation to the value is an extra bonus.

Seed drills are also a good income, however they are very seasonal.

How often do you change your tractors?

We basically run three main tractors and three second tractors. When we buy a new one, roughly every three years, one of the older ones is traded in, so on average each tractor will have a nine-year life with us. A main tractor could stay as a second tractor indefinitely with us, though.

When they are sold, they have earned their time with us. The last two tractors traded in had 12,500 and 13,000 hours on them.

The Scottish Farmer: TractorTractor

However, if a tractor is doing the job it is supposed to do well and you are not going to gain anything by modernising it, then there is no need to change it.

Each tractor is purchased under a five-year, 6000-hour warranty programme, but we are happy to run them that little bit longer because machinery has become so expensive.

Which dealerships do you mainly use?

Hamilton Ross Group, Perth – formerly Reekie – is our first port of call for most of the kit. They provide an excellent service.

Seed drills and mowers were bought from AM Phillips, Muiryfaulds, Forfar, and HRN tractors, Balbeggie, respectively.

Best and worse bits of contracting?

Weather and working hours.

When the weather is good and conditions are favourable, contracting can be a very rewarding job, but if the weather and conditions are poor, it can be a constant battle, with long unsociable hours, to look after our customers.

The Scottish Farmer: Raking under way for the silage to commence Raking under way for the silage to commence

How do you manage that small weather window?

You just have to grab every opportunity that you can and be willing to work hard.

We don’t get the same frosts through the winter that we used to, which can delay dung spreading as the ground is too soft. This can then have a knock-on effect into early spring work like ploughing, etc, but we always seem to get through it.

This spring has been very good, the weather has been on our side and so we have managed to keep on top of our jobs well.

How are you coping with the rise in fuel?

Fuel is the biggest variable cost at the moment and we have to charge that variable costs onto our customer ... we cannot absorb them.

Regardless of the price of fuel, the condition and type of land can have a huge indicator on the use of fuel, a factor for which we need to charge accordingly. For example, using the power harrow drill compared from one farm to another can be as much as £7 per acre more on fuel alone.

Will these costs put people out of business?

Possibly, from a farmer’s point of view, but less likely from a contractor’s view .

Farmers need to pay the increasing costs of everything to allow them to put the crops in the ground and feed their animals yet just have to accept the price they get at the end of the day for their produce.

Hopefully, this year we will see a rise in income for our end products. If we don’t, then that’s going to put a strain on everybody’s business.

Has the pandemic had an impact on your business?

The last couple of years had become more difficult getting machine parts from Europe, however that may also be due to Brexit.

The day to day work of our farming and contracting has largely been unaffected as we have generally been isolated in our own individual tractors.

The Scottish Farmer: The race is on...The race is on...

What changes have you witnessed over the years?

The modernisation of machinery and how much work you can actually get done in a day.

Biggest achievement?

Buying the farm.

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

In hindsight, given the opportunity, we would like to have bought more arable land. Due to inflation, the original cost of purchasing land has made the initial borrowing costs insignificant.

Problems within the industry?

The soaring costs of everything, especially machinery, make it very difficult for contractors to keep up.

These costs also make it extremely hard for someone to come into the industry.

What advice would you give to a new contractor?

Work hard put the hours in and keep your head high. Keep an eye on your variable costs and charge accordingly. Some folk have begun with a hired tractor and as long as you are covering your hire cost and keeping your head above water, you will get there.

How are your future-proofing your business?

Being in our mid-60s we are not looking to be the biggest contractor in the area. As long as we are able to keep ourselves in work and financially secure and safe, we will be happy.

With Alistair coming through, there is a good business there for him to carry on – although we don’t have any intentions of retiring just yet!

Any concerns about the future of the industry that you service?

The world population will always need food.

Now that we are out of Europe, we should try to be as self sufficient as we can in the UK. Over the years we have become too reliant on the rest of the world for a lot of our products, but it is time the UK Government gave farmers the opportunity to provide as much top-quality food for the nation as they can.


Massey Ferguson 7274 combine with 25-foot Powerflow header

Massey Ferguson 36RS combine with 16-foot Freeflow header

Massey Ferguson 7720 Dyna6 tractor

Massey Ferguson 7718S Dyna6 tractor

Massey Ferguson 7618 Dyna6 tractor with MF FL4621 loader

Massey Ferguson 7618 Dyna6 tractor

Massey Ferguson 6480 tractor with MF 965 loader

Massey Ferguson 6265 Dynashift tractor

Kverneland PB100 six-furrow reversible plough

Kverneland ES85 five-furrow reversible plough

Horsch Pronto DC 4m drill

Horsch Express 3KR 3m Powerharrow drill

Horsch joker disc cultivator with Mono 3TG front tines

KV 3m CLC cultivator

Heva 7.3m paddle rollers

Heva 6.3m paddle rollers

Opico 6m grass harrow with grass seeder

LELY Centerliner fert spreader

Reekie and Grimme potato equipment

Berthoud 24m rear mounted sprayer including front tank

John Deere 1365 mower conditioner with front mounted JD 3m mower conditioner

Vicon four-rotor hay turner

Vicon twin rotor rake

Albutt push-off buckrake

Vicon RV 2160 chopper baler

Kuhn FB 3135 power track chopper

JF Stoll1060 forage harvester with pickup reel and direct cut headers

Two Stewart 13/17SS grain/silage trailers

Two Stewart 33ft 15T trailers with walkways and box pushers

NC 14T dump trailer

McHale bale wrapper with powerpack and trailer

Two Bunning muck spreaders with spinner deck hoods