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Farming around the world: Seskin Farm

A busy dairy and beef farm in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is very much a family team effort – and also relies on a modern fleet of Massey Ferguson tractors to carry out the jobs associated with managing livestock

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On the dump trailer for haulage duties is the MF 7718S

Shunning the use of agricultural contractors for most of their work, the Ferguson family, who run Seskin Farm outside the village of Straid, prefer to carry out their own operations.

Seskin Farm is home to 350 dairy cows and is run by John and Miriam Ferguson together with their two sons, Allen and John, and their families.

While everyone mucks in, John mostly looks after the young stock while Allen and his dad milk the cows.

The Ferguson fleet

The Fergusons operate a fleet of Massey Ferguson tractors and have added two new models this year. Massey Ferguson tractors have been used on the Ferguson farm for decades, as Allen, who also is the machinery man on the farm, explained.

“We milk around 350 cows in the family partnership, farming a total of 550 acres including conacre,” says Allen.

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It won’t be long before the fleet will be hauling silage once again

“My father and I mostly carry out the milkings while my brother John looks after the calf rearing and the Artificial Inseminations of the cows. I also look after all the machinery in the business.

“Most of the dairy cows calve in the autumn time. My brother and I run a few suckler cows to produce beef calves to rear and some beef bulls are used on some of the dairy cows as well.”

Managing a herd that size requires a reliable fleet of tractors to carry out the main jobs on the farm and that reliance has traditionally been on the Massey Ferguson brand.

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Allen Ferguson from Seskin Farm with the family’s new MF 6715S

“The only jobs we don’t do here is ploughing or spreading slurry with the umbilical system,” said Allen. “We leave that to the contractor but everything else we manage.

“Massey Ferguson has predominantly been the brand of choice here, and currently we run a total of seven MF tractors dating back to the smallest and oldest MF 165 scraper tractor.

“Our oldest of the six remaining four-wheel-drive tractors is a 2008 MF 5470 on the diet feeder, followed by a 2016 MF 6616, which we mostly use for hedge cutting and hauling slurry and silage. The other tractors include the 2018 MF 7718S used for mowing and hauling and a 2019 MF 5713S used as a loader tractor.

“Then we have the two newer 2021 tractors, both purchased earlier this year, an MF 6718S and an MF 6715S, which replaced older models,” said Allen.

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The most powerful tractor on the Ferguson farm is the 2018 MF 7718S

Diverse job demands

Hauling silage and slurry are the most common jobs demanded from the bigger MF tractors on the Ferguson farm, making power, braking, and operator comfort the purchase influencers when buying a tractor.

“We’ve been very impressed with the new tractors this year, particularly the MF 6715S,” said Allen. “It seems to have plenty of power when required and is very manoeuvrable with a compact turning circle.

“The MF 6718S is slightly bigger with a bit more power under the hood, but there’s very little difference between the two. All these tractors have the Dyna 6 transmissions, which I like. It never gives us any trouble on the tractors.”

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The two sets of front and rear mower combinations are stored in the shed over the winter period

Allen says they don’t really have a regular policy when it comes to buying new tractors but also said he wouldn’t bypass a good deal if one was on the table.

“We don’t stick to a regular policy when it comes to changing tractors to new models,” he said. “We maintain all the tractors well and really look after them. Tractors are only changed when they really need to be, or when the local MF dealership gives us a deal we can’t refuse.

“We used to buy second-hand tractors and still would, but the last three tractors we’ve purchased have all been brand-new because we were getting a good deal on them.

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This MF 6718S is used for fertiliser sowing and hedgecutting duties

“The warranty on a new tractor is very important to us and is another reason we like buying new. It costs a lot of money to repair something that’s out of warranty. We have tractors covered by four years warranty, which gives us good peace of mind. For us, when buying a tractor, it must have a minimum of two years warranty, otherwise, it’s not a good deal.

“We service the older tractors not covered by a warranty here ourselves and the dealership services the newer tractors. The newer tractors have come on Trelleborg tyres, which seem to have more wear in them and are a good tyre,” Allen said.

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The Ferguson family also purchased a new MF 6718S in 2021

“The Ferguson family are loyal Massey Ferguson customers and truly understand their specific needs for power and technology,” Kevin Gribben, the MF sales manager with the local dealership, John McElderry M&T Ltd, says.

“There are advantages to the customer with good Massey Ferguson warranties when buying new, just to give that extra peace of mind. The two new models Allen bought this year replaced two older models and keep the bigger tractors in the fleet more modern to hold a good residual value.”

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