Jalex Herd Open Day 2018
Nelson and James Alexander extend a warm welcome to their open day which will take place on the farm on Saturday 10th March (11am-3pm). This was a hugely popular event last year with suckler producers flocking from right across Ireland to attend. The main focus will be on having a look at the livestock which will include the 2018 crop of 800 heifers that will be sold in batches throughout the year. These high-quality Simmental, Limousin and Blue types are served to easy calving Limousin bulls and will make ideal suckler replacements.
Visitors will also be able to view the full range of Tractors and Pick Ups that are currently in stock.
The Open Day will take place at Alexanders Farm
88 Gloverstown Road,
11am to 3pm
RARE BREED RETURNS TO ALEXANDERS
Article on James published in Irish News (12/01/2015)
HE may be happiest in wellies inspecting his sheep and cows but prizewinning Toomebridge farmer James Alexander is keeping the farming wheels turning in a different sense – exporting tractors all the way to Thailand.
The busy farmer and father-of-four has recently expanded his tractor export business to the east Asian country after previously securing markets in Spain, Bulgaria, Norway, Poland, Sweden and South America.
“Our business, like every business, is constantly changing,” he said.
“Our export market has continually grown and at present 40 per cent of our tractor sales are exported outside of the UK and Ireland to countries all over the world.”
His father, Nelson, started selling tractors and second-hand machinery locally 40 years ago and is still very much the ‘boss’ of the business which has its own website – Alexandertractors.com – comprising sections entitled ‘Everything you ever wanted to know about tractors but were too scared to ask’ and ‘When Tractors Get Blinged’.
Surprisingly, the Thailand contract – equating to over 30 new high performance vehicles ranging in price from £7,000 up to £20,000 – happened by chance.
“A Thai dealer representative had been in Northern Ireland when he drove past and just called in one day,” James said.
“He bought six tractors on the spot.”
That was definitely a good day for business, but, as James pointed out ahead of his second outing on popular UTV programme, Rare Breed which aired last night, farming generally is full of unpredictable highs and lows.
“The whole agricultural scene in Northern Ireland is bad at the minute – grain, potatoes, beef and sheep – but I didn’t want to come across as another ‘crying farmer’ on the programme, so I didn’t talk about the problems much,” he said.
“But now it is the toughest it has been for 40 years, mainly due to EU regulations, rising production costs with prices for farmers not keeping pace, and also because the euro is so weak against sterling.
“I really don’t see farming remaining sustainable in the long-term against such obstacles. Sadly, I don’t even see my own children being able to carry on the farming tradition first started by their great grandfather in the glens of Antrim.”
Despite the difficulties, however, he remains “passionate” about his 700-acre holding, with the highlight always the production of quality livestock.
“I have won prizes at every major show in Northern Ireland so that brings a deep sense of satisfaction. I am definitely happiest in the fields with the animals – that keeps me sane when there is something to worry about.”
And farm safety is always well up his worry list given the high incidence of accidents on farms involving children.
“I think there is a risk of complacency but farm safety is something my wife Ruth and I always take very seriously,” he said.
“With farming being such a full-on lifestyle, it is also important to take time out to spend with your family.
“When you’re involved with calving all year round it’s quite stressful, but we have now sold a large proportion of cows to focus on breeding heifers and pedigree herds.
“It has freed up more time – although with a new baby due in February, I think I am going to kept extra busy anyway.”
James, who debuted on last year’s series, says he enjoyed taking part in the new programmes, but harbours no illusions about bagging a permanent spot in front of the cameras.
“I think a lot of the time farmers are misunderstood and my main aim was to get across the long hours and the work involved in running a farm – and the risks with everything from the weather to animals suddenly dying,” he added.
“But I had to always be aware of my speech as I talk too fast and I mumble, so I don’t think I’d make a suitable TV star – I’m happy just to be a ‘rare breed’.”
The popular fly-on-the-wall series – which attracted an average audience of 207,000 viewers per episode last year – features five Northern Ireland farming families and will be screened on UTV each Monday evening for the next 11 weeks.
The Real Costs of not Having a Good Tractor
Once upon a time farmers had to hire dozens of farmhands to keep a farm going because there was always so much work to be done. Plowing the fields, tilling the land, picking produce and so much more, all required a lot of effort. Of course, do not forget the struggle that comes with bailing hay! Luckily, while farming is definitely still hard work, it is not as tedious as it was a century ago. A large part of this is due to innovative technology that has led to the development of the modern farming tractor. Using tractors in place of hard manual labour and horses has helped expedite the world’s food production and ease the hardship of being a farmer in many ways.
Today farm tractors are used to complete a wide variety of tasks in just a few hours. What might have taken a week now only takes a day with solid farm tractors. The tractor is stronger than a horse and of course it never gets tired so you don’t have to worry about its health. You can simply keep going until the job is complete or the farmer is ready to call it quits for the day.
Of course, tractors can be expensive, especially if you are a farmer looking at a new model. However, before considering a tractor to be too expensive to replace, consider the costs of not buying a new one. In order to compensate for life on the farm without a tractor nine to ten more farmhands will likely need to be hired. Even with the extra help there will be more work needed to keep up with a high production of goods. This means more hours which means paying more people more hours. The end result is higher operating costs and a reduction in overall profit
With this in mind, the price of a tractor will start to look cheaper and cheaper. Plus, many times tractors can be purchased used or secondhand. This helps to keep the price down and will help keep the farm safe. After all, working long hours or double shifts is never healthy and can lead to extreme fatigue, heat stroke, and sometimes even heart attack. A tractor does not have these risks, and with the right maintenance will likely not even require many repairs for its first several years of use.
Experience Farming in Northern Ireland – Firsthand!
Great ways to experience Farming in Northern Ireland
Agriculture is a very important aspect of Northern Ireland’s economy, and people have been farming in the region for centuries. During the spring there is a lot to see if you are willing to explore the farmland of Northern Ireland. If you want to see something different during your holiday you might consider planning a trip to one of the many different working farms that are spread out across the country. This will allow you the chance to see Irish farmers in action as they manage their farms, and breed and look after their animals, all the while making sure they naturally take care of the environment around them.
If you want to see a wide variety of animals then consider stopping by the Ark Open Farm in County Down. The farm is located in typical NI countryside, but the animals are anything but common. A woodland walk connects all of the different areas of the farm, which include housing and habitats for reindeer, meerkats, sika deer, and more. In addition, the farm has a very hands-on outdoor adventure playground, and seasonal events that are scheduled throughout all of the major holiday seasons. Visit on the weekend and stop in for a meal at the Cottage Café while you are there.
Fun For Kids
Another great farm to visit for those with children is the Streamvale Open Farm. This farm was built by the Morrow family who have worked hard to encourage everyone to have a good day out in the open air. Not only can you walk history and nature trails that take you through the countryside and the farmland, but there are also play areas that have been set-up, so children can play on trailers and large toy animals that will help expose them to farm culture. As a bonus, if you come during the spring you can even bottle feed the kids and lambs on the farm!
If you would like to see more than one farm, you might want to plan your trip to Northern Ireland to fall over the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend. Usually it takes place during the 2nd or 3rd week of June, and they invite people to come and visit farms across the country. All types of agricultural concerns participate including egg farms, apple farms, corn farms, dairy farms, turkey farms, and more. As an extra temptation, you can buy fresh produce and products from the farms, which will make a very tasty treat to take home while helping to support local, sustainable farming.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Tractors (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)
Since farming is one of Northern Ireland’s most important industries, it follows that tractors are also an important facet. If you’re looking for a tractor or need to find out what might best suit the uses you plan for it, there is a mass of useful information to be found online – or you can just walk into your local dealer and start asking questions.
However, if you really want a quick and comprehensive education in tractors and what they can and cannot do, spend a day at the annual Ploughing Championship. In fact you can plan to visit it this year, as it’s taking place at Balmoral Park, Maze, Lisburn from October 9th through 10th. The Championships attract a truly amazing crowd of participants, dealers, exhibitors, spectators and tourists, but the purpose is quite serious; it’s a way for farmers to stay abreast of competitive technology, and stay in business for themselves.
This is where you’ll find working demonstrations of the best tractors for a variety of uses and circumstances, interspersed with all sorts of other entertainment to keep everyone enthused. The event is organized – and has been for 72 years now – by the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association (NIPA), as a means of encouraging friendly competition and improving the overall picture for the farming industry. All of the big tractor manufacturers are present, promoting their latest and greatest machines.
Tractors are not toys, not for farmers in Northern Ireland. They can literally mean the difference between making a profit and losing the farm, so the right choice for the job at hand is a crucial decision. When you’re investing as much as £100,000 or more in a single piece of machinery, which is often the case, it makes a lot of sense to learn as much as possible about the options, even if you’ve been using tractors for years.
High Tech, Big Names
At the Championships event, those options include high-tech machinery made by John Deere, Case, Massey Ferguson, Ford, Fiat and others, each manufacturer vying for best-in-class as demonstrated by the competition’s entrants. As a matter of interest, anyone between the ages of 13 to 18 must pass a formal driving test and get a LANTRA certificate in order to drive a tractor anywhere in Northern Ireland. This gives you an idea of what an important role tractors play in the life of anyone who works the land.
There is really no more educational and enjoyable day out for farmers, would-be farmers, and anyone with an interest in agriculture and the equipment needed to successfully work the land. Besides the display and performance of tractors with their various capabilities, visitors will find scrumptious food and drink, a plethora of live entertainment provided by local and national talent – and a friendly welcome for all.
The Future of Farming in Northern Ireland
The Future of Farming in Northern Ireland
According to NISRA, the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency, the number of viable working farms in Northern Ireland is dwindling, down from 31,000 at the turn of the 21st century to 24,000 by the end of 2014. Many of the smaller farms – less than 50 acres or so – that have provided a living for families over many generations have given way to bigger, less ‘personal’ operations with machines taking over much of the hard work of earlier times.
With that noted, however, the ratio of sheep to humans in the country is still about two to one, and nearly that for cows and people; sheep and dairy farming are still major resources, and in a January 2014 report the BBC noted that overall farm income was on the rise. Figures from the Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) showed an increase of 31% in 2013 to £298m, with dairy farms showing the most substantial rise in ‘farm-gate’ prices.
Support for Agriculture
NI’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) states that it is heartily in support of the farming industry and considers agri-food to be one of the chief drivers of the country’s economy. The industry sustains over 100,000 jobs, but equally important is its role as the “fabric of local communities”, involving all sectors of rural life and business.
For many years farmers in Northern Ireland have relied on subsidies; the CAP or Common Agricultural Policy which allocates grants is currently being reformed, and the distribution of money will be different. The new policies are controversial, with the DUP contending that farmers get the “raw end” of the supply chain, having no power to set prices for the food and other goods they produce.
Farming at the Heart of NI
Because of the relatively mild climate and what has been described as “the best grass on the planet”, farming is natural for Northern Ireland. It’s a way of life that has always depended on hard work and careful planning – subject to unforeseeable events such as droughts, floods, contagious diseases and others – as well as a knowledge and understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Northern Ireland’s farms contribute about £2 billion to the economy, according to DARD, and the emphasis now is on maintaining and improving farmers’ output whilst taking steps to conserve the natural environment. Goals for the future, both immediate and long-term, are for farming to be a sustainable, competitive and ultimately profitable business for farmers whose livelihood depends on the land and the weather.
The Surprising Things A Farm Tractor Can Do
Agriculture has changed a lot over the past few decades, but one thing that has remained the same is the fact that farmers still rely a great deal on tractors in order to get the job done. Of course, technology has come a long way so tractors can now perform many tasks that farmers used to do by hand, but this has opened the door for more farms to grow larger amounts of foods. Tractors are the backbone of farming, but they can also be used for some pretty unusual tasks as well. Here are just a few of the most surprising things a tractor can be used for.
Using a Tractor as Your Workhorse
Many people think that the only role of a tractor is to move goods from area to another or turn over the earth. This is all good, but a clever farmer will take that task and multiple it by ten to make a very impressive mule out of their tractor. Tractors generally have a lot of horsepower under the hood, so instead of getting out the pickup truck you can grab some straps and haul cut wood, rice bags, soil bags, or pretty much anything you want with a tractor. It will likely cost you less in gas and get the job done quicker.
Another smart way to use tractors is to help stop wildfires from spreading. A fire is about the worst thing that could ever happen to a farmer. In the case that it does happen however a tractor can be used to irrigate the land around the fire perimeter to contain the fire and keep it from spreading. It might seem a bit unbelievable, and it may get a bit hot from the driver’s seat, but it really does work. Move over fire truck, there is a new vehicle in town!
Pimp My Tractor!
Speaking of vehicles, tractors can also be used as your major vehicle if you like. Some people remodel them to make them look a bit more spruced up and road worthy, while others drive them around town on errands. It actually makes perfect sense if you are out on the farm to just drive your tractor into town if you need something. This way you don’t have to change and you don’t have to backtrack. Simply drive off the land towards the town and you can be on your way to the hardware store or grocery store and you can carry your bags in the bucket!
When Tractors Get Blinged
Once upon a time tractors were nothing more than the workhorses of the mechanised world; machines that were there to do the digging, ploughing and pulling that no human was physically capable of performing. The great majority of farmers would openly admit they would be completely lost without their faithful tractor and were unable to do a lot of their work if the machine ever broke down. If the general public ever thought about them at all, it was usually with annoyance, and perhaps a desire not to be caught behind one on a rural road. The one thing that tractors have never been “blinged” until recently. This is the post-modern world of the 21st century, and anything can be blinged out today.
There are even a number of competitions that are held online to design the best blinged tractors. The idea initially began with cars and various other motor vehicles, until eventually even the seemingly unlikely tractor was due for a bit of tender loving care and “tarting up” as well. These days there are even worldwide tractor shows, and while the blinged tractors have yet to have one of their own shows, with such shows tending to focus instead on new, old fashioned vintage, or even high concept tractors it can surely only be a matter of time.
One of the most popular ways to bling out a tractor is to soup one up with a red and chrome design. The use of shiny red paint, a chrome exhaust pipe, large fat alloy wheels, chromed mirrors and chrome nudge bar results in a beast with a very memorable, stylish and formidable appearance. Another of the most popular designs for a blinged tractor for those whose tastes are a little more on the mean and moody side, is to give a tractor a totally black paint job with sleek lines and blue flames running down the sides. You certainly would not want to encounter that on a dark road!
Another winning design for a blinged tractor is to use sleek silver paintwork together with a turquoise blue motif. This design works wonders on smaller tractors in particular, making them look like a very nifty and very cool little machine. One of the more unusual designs is for a charming baby pink digger, which seems somewhat unlikely to appeal to the more macho members of the farming community!
The World’s Most Expensive New Holland Tractors
New Holland tractors are well known all over the world for their quality and durability, and the name alone carries with it a certain degree of prestige. Prices vary between models and there are certainly a number of more affordable, “budget” tractors, but what are the most luxurious, and therefore also most expensive types?
High on the list would have to be the tractor known as the T6 Blue Power Exclusive Edition. This is premium agriculture at its absolute best (and its most costly!) The most important attributes here are comfort and performance, and with the Blue Power Exclusive Edition those attributes get jacked up with exclusive styling, making this tractor almost certainly the most luxurious range of tractors ever designed, and one of the most expensive!
The premium Blue Power models also come with the most productive and advanced tractor technology on the market today, including Auto Command transmissions that allow for an infinite number of variations when it comes to the speed of the machine. The precise reverse or forward speed desired can be easily set and the driver of the tractor can then just sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that everything else is being taken care of. All of the transmission controls are located on the perfectly positioned CommandGrip multifunction handle.
These models also come equipped with the tractor control benchmark known as the Sidewinder 11 arm rest, where all important functions are ergonomically and intuitively arranged. Also available is the completely integrated auto-guidance system called IntelliSteer. The result of all of these features is hands-free farming that leaves farmers more able to concentrate on their productivity than the technology, making the premium Blue Power models more than worth their hefty price tag.
The T6 Range
T6 line models include the 120 Classic, the 140 Classic, the 140 Sidewinder II, the 159 Classic and the 150 Sidewinder II. Another of the most expensive models is the T6 Golden Jubilee Edition, which celebrates half a century of uninterrupted tractor production at Basildon. These exclusive and expensive special editions of the T7.720 and T6.160 Auto Command models are available in a limited number, and come with metallic Profondo Blue paint, a gold insignia and rich blue shade, as well as a logo celebrating fifty years at Basildon, a full leather steering wheel and luxurious carpet. With powerful hydraulics and outstanding visibility on offer alongside the comfort and luxury, the Golden Jubilee Edition is expensive – but invaluable!
Before Buying A Compact Tractor Check These 4 Things
A compact tractor is a great way to take care of normal lawn care tasks and some larger agricultural tasks if you are so inclined. However, there are dozens of models out on the market and not every tractor will offer you the same degree of satisfaction. A compact tractor is an investment, so it pays to be careful when choosing which model to buy for your own use. Before deciding on and purchasing a tractor, take a look at the following checklist. Make sure that you consider each of these points before making a purchase.
The first thing you need to do is specify exactly what you need the compact tractor for. You want to make sure you buy one that has plenty of horsepower to meet your needs; on the other hand you don’t need to pay extra money for strength you will never use. Therefore, it is important to think about the shape of your land, whether it is hilly or flat and what you intend to do with the tractor. For instance, you might just want a mower right now, but in the future want it for digging postholes and tilling. Consider your needs now and in the future, because a well maintained compact tractor will last a good decade and you want one that can do all the jobs that may need doing in years to come.
Check The Framework
This leads into the very important consideration of what material your compact tractor will be made of. Plastic and sheet metal tractors will cost a bit less and will weigh less, but these frameworks do not tend to have the same lifespan. If you truly want a vehicle that will last you for a decade then consider spending a bit more upfront and choose a steel framework. Your investment will pay off when you don’t have to replace it in five years. At this point you should also consider whether you want one that has a diesel engine or gasoline engine as this will impact the amount of maintenance you will have to do.
Based on what you plan to use the tractor for you may need to purchase a few accessories or look for a compact tractor package that offers you the accessories you want. A three point hitch, hydraulic system, and power take-off are all great features to look for. They also will help you make the tractor more efficient. You also might want to consider a front loader or yoke if you plan to move materials around.
While many people think of a compact tractor as a tool or even a toy, the truth is that it is large, powerful machine and can be dangerous in certain circumstances. Health and safety is paramount in any modern industry therefore, you want to make sure that the tractor you buy has the right safety features installed and insurance coverage to protect you and your family. For instance, you will want seatbelts, a mechanical kill switch, and a rollover safeguard. You also want to make sure that you can comfortably work the controls and reach the pedals.