THIS week’s contractor’s feature took us back to the South-west coast of Scotland, to Ayr, where we met brothers, George (58) and Duncan (53) Logan, of GR Logan, Raithhill, Coylton.

George Reid Logan snr (known in the farming community as Reid), purchased Raithhill and its 300 acres in 1958, along with his wife, Nana.

Raithhill was primarily a dairy farm and, as everyone knows, back in those days, all milking was done in byres.

The Scottish Farmer:

MCHALE FUSION 3 round baler and wrapper combo Ref:RH080618034

Moving forward in order to improve the ease of milking the cows, Raithhill was one of the first farms in South-west Scotland to introduce a six-point milking parlour.

George and Duncan took on the mantle of running the family farm along with their father, with George taking on the role of milking and calf-rearing, and Duncan concentrating mostly on the machinery side of the business.

All questions were answered by Duncan, with some input, and discussion, from George.

The Scottish Farmer:

THE SILAGE team in readiness – the New Holland (left) has a Claas rake attached Ref:RH080618028​

How did you establish your business?
In 1990, the late William Somerville, who was a local contractor, was selling his combine harvester which we purchased. 
In 1993, we realised there was an opportunity to build up from scratch a contracting business, incorporating silage chopping, along with our existing combining work. We went on to purchase a Reko Mengele 40 trailed chopper, and within four years, we were chopping more than 700 acres of silage, locally. 
As the work increased, we were able to upgrade to a self-propelled Claas chopper, which allowed us to take on more work. 
At present, we are doing more than 5000 acres per year, with a mixture of silage, wholecrop silage and maize.

What is the main bulk of work that you do?
In the spring we will take on ploughing, one pass, and power harrowing, and once we are in the summer months, the main job is the silage work which includes chopping and round baling. 
Throughout the year, we also undertake slurry spreading with tankers, umbilical spreading with either splash plate or injectors, as well as dung spreading. 
We have also turned our hand to snow-ploughing and gritting during the winter months, and finally, we do digger and dump trailer work as well.

What made you stop combining?
The main reason was due to us doing more wholecrop silage at the same time as the harvest season, and our good friend, Houston McIndoe, already had an established business, and was happy to take on our customers, along with his own, and, to this day, we supply him with a driver, when required, to drive one of his four combines.

The Scottish Farmer:

HERRON ENGINEERING twin axle H1 silage trailers Ref:RH080618038

When did you give up the dairy herd?
In 2000, we made the difficult decision to sell the dairy herd because the parlour, which was installed in the 60s, was needing to be modernised, and, due to the pressures of the contracting business, the milking was being done by our father, who was left on his own more and more, and was, by that point, in his 60s. 
After we sold the dairy herd, we reared calves, purchased from local farms, through to finishing, and we now buy stores at the local markets, and fatten approximately 200 per year. 

Favourite job?
There is nothing better than chopping on a good sunny day.

Least favourite job?
Maize drilling, especially on a windy day.

The Scottish Farmer:

GOING FULL tilt this season – the Claas Jaguar chopper in action

Best tractor ever made?
Our business has used New Holland tractors since the start, and my favourite has to be the T6180, because it is a good, all round, easily operated tractor.

Dealerships used?
Agricar, Dundonald; Gordons, Berryhill; Ramsay and Jackson, Mauchline; Hamilton Brothers, Tarbolton, and William Kerr Tractors, Ayr.

What are your thoughts on 2017’s weather?
Only one word can describe last year’s weather, and that is horrendous.
It did prove challenging for us, trying to make silage in wet conditions, and it resulted in two of our customers being unable to get a second cut of silage. 
However, in 2018 so far, the weather has been exceptional for the first cut silage, and of the farms that we have chopped at so far, the silage has been of high quality. 
We look forward to more sunny and dry conditions for the remainder of the summer.

The Scottish Farmer:

GET READY for action - the Raithhill fleet of New Hollands Ref:RH080618032

What would you say has been the biggest change over the years?
Machinery has increased in size and technology, which has allowed us to carry out our work more efficiently, and the climate. 
Over the last 20 years, we have been aware of the changing weather patterns – more rain and less sunshine.

How many members of staff do you employ?
At present we have three full -time staff, and they are Gordon and Andrew Murray, the twins who are better known as The Chuckles, who have been with us for more than 20 years, and Blair McIlwraith has been with us since 2012.
Craig Gatherer then joined us in 2016, on a self-employed basis, and we also have a main core of men who join us during the summer months, and they are; Drew Duncan, Craig Mitchell and John Limond. 
They are always reliable, on time, and will do any job asked of them, to the best of their ability.

What are your main interests?
Duncan: I have always been interested in machinery, and I always enjoy driving my chopper in the sunshine.
George: I prefer working with the cattle on the farm, but I also have an active interest in Ayr United Football Club.

The Scottish Farmer:

TWO HERRON Engineering, and one NC, vacuum tankers Ref:RH080618040

How do you see farming changing over the next few years?
Due to the uncertainty of Brexit, who knows? We may have to work without any subsidy payments.
I also think that large dairy farms will increase in size, and numbers, but at the other end of the scale, small dairy herds may disappear.
There is also fewer and fewer young men and women willing to carry on the family business, due to having to work long hours, for a small return. 

Where do your customers range from?
We have customers from as far afield as Colmonell, right through to Cumbernauld.

Are your customers good to you?
We have a very loyal customer base, and many of them have been with us since day one, and we have enjoyed many a delicious meal in the comfort of a homely farm kitchen, at the end of a long day in the fields. 

Is there a future in contracting?
I believe there is, as I see this as the way forward, due to the spiralling costs of machinery, and lack of manpower on the majority of farms. 

What advice would you give to anyone who wishes to get into contracting?
The best advice I can give to anyone would be to ensure that they have reliable machinery, as well as reliable staff, especially ones who are willing to work the long hours.
They also need to be prepared for the challenges that the weather can bring, and have good communication with their customers.