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Contractor profile: Rand Brothers

Located near Royston, England and originally founded by three brothers back in 1934, Rand Brothers has grown to a large operation that attracts seasonal contractors from around the world, with Dan Reymer a repeat visitor

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Rand Brothers harvesting gear on the last job of 2023

This large farming business has diversified into many areas, with farming, bailing, and storage currently the three main areas of operation, with a small livestock component complementing the business.

Many New Zealanders have been a part of the crew (including myself) for several years. Each area of the business is managed separately, which helps the smooth running of the overall operation.

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JCB Fastrac’s are AWT’s pick for carting grain

Grain store

Based on the ‘home farm’, the grain store is the heart of the business, with
a lot of the farm equipment stored there.

In the heat of harvest, it runs nearly 24/7, with an endless stream of vehicles bringing in tons of product. The vast area of sheds and concrete is an impressive sight, complete with a weighbridge and grain dryer. A New Holland L190 loader, complete with a large tip-toe bucket, does most of the loader work in the grain yard. With such enormous amounts of grain coming into the store every day, the loader needs to shift many tons fast and efficiently, along with loading trucks year-round. JCB telehandlers aid in grain yard taking on multiple tasks from cleaning the grain sheds to tidying the yard and shifting elevators. Most of the seasonal farm staff reside onsite further defying its heart structure.

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One of the Rand Brothers JCB Fastrac’s chasing bales

Farming

With many acres farmed by Rands, a lot of equipment and many hands are needed to complete the daily jobs. Running a CLAAS Lexion 8800 and a 770 on 45-foot (13.8-meter) headers, large volumes are harvested at a rapid pace. This is where a John Deere 8400R coupled to a Bergmaan Chaser bin comes in. Christy Rooney was a seasonal Irish worker who has now filled a full-time position operating the grain chaser and does a lot of drilling in a John Deere 6250r and 750a drill. He has spent time in both the farm and straw sides of the business and enjoys the large-scale side of farming while being close to many people who enjoy the same things.

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Wadlow Wind Farm in Cambridgeshire producing good wheat

Straw

A large part of farming in eastern England is straw bailing and Rand Brothers are one of the largest straw bailing contractors in the area. Running 10 big square balers, six chasers, and
up to three JCB telehandlers, there are a lot of seats to fill for a short time.

The harvest season runs from early July to early September, which I’ve found fits in well to escape the worst of the New Zealand winter.

The 2023 season saw several Kiwis take to the UK soil and saddle up into a new rig. It’s something that you can’t do at home easily or at the same scale. Having a 100-hectare field wasn’t uncommon and is certainly a memorable experience. The majority of the balers are Massey Ferguson 2290s, which are essentially a Hesston 4×4 bale, along with a couple of 2270 XDs. A few new Krone 4×4 balers joined the fleet this year, which I had the opportunity to operate.

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Big rows and large fields produce huge amounts of bales

A mix of tractors make up the fleet, with John Deere 6155Rs equipped to the chasers. With the balers requiring a few more ponies to get the job done, Case IH Puma 185s and 240s, and John Deere 6215Rs packed the punch needed to handle the balers. Making more than 100,000 bales during the three months of harvest is a significant amount to push through and chase, which is where the extra manpower comes in handy.

This 2023 season saw eight Kiwis, two lads from Zambia, and the other 10 a mix of English and Irish. Creating a great opportunity to work while travelling the world is a wicked experience and few careers allow this level of travel.

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Case IH Puma 240 coupled to a Krone 4×4 baler

Forming new relationships with people is also a highlight, as there’s always someone who wants to or has been to New Zealand for work. Being able to help them out and point them in the right direction gives all parties involved a greater sense of what’s to come. It’s an experience that’s worth doing for people who have a passion for machinery, further increasing skill levels on new machines, and seeing the other side of the world.

Find new and used farm machinery for sale in NZ

Photography: Dan Reymer

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