Six years on from his success in the National Inventions Competition at the Tullamore Show, Darragh Egan is going from strength to strength with his labour-saving farm devices.
arragh, from Mount Bolus in Offaly, impressed the judges of the Farming Independent-sponsored competition with his clever bale feeder ‘Easy Arm’.
It came about after his girlfriend’s father suffered a stroke and was finding it difficult to continue feeding livestock on the farm.
Darragh came up with a device that allows farmers to lift a bale feeder with the bale lifter, tip the bale off and then drop the feeder back onto the bale — all without getting off the tractor or having to manually push and lift the bale feeder around in mucky conditions.
The Easy Arm — which took second place in the Inventions in Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry section in 2016 — is a ring feeder lifter which is attached to either a bale handler or bale spike and allows the user to carry a bale and a ring feeder simultaneously.
The ring feeder arm can be removed during the summer when not in use by removing two pins. The bale handler can then be used as normal, for the transportation of bales during silage season.
After graduating from Carlow IT in 2017 with a degree in civil engineering, Darragh established his own agri-engineering business, Blue Bull Machinery, which now employs two full-time members of staff.
“The competition was a great way for me to gauge if there was interest in the market for my products and scope out potential future customers,” he says.
“We mainly produce the Easy Arms during the winter and they sell steadily throughout the year. Every year is different so farmer interest ranges between products and we alter our production similarly.
“My partner Mary’s father, William Nevin, is doing great now and still uses the original Easy Arm I designed and manufactured for him. The family are great customers — Mary’s brother bought a double bale lifter off me recently.”
Blue Bull Machinery manufactures a range of feeding and forage-handling machinery which includes tine grabs, silage pushers, shear grabs, feeding trailers and bale lifters.
“The double bale lifter is one of our top products, we sell a couple of hundred of those each year,” Darragh says.
“I’m looking at taking on an apprentice and I’m always on the lookout for good welders to join the team — there’s a shortage of those in the country.”
Darragh says he has a couple of new ideas up his sleeve and is always looking at ways to save labour on farms.
“We produce a lot of custom machines for farmers, which is a form of inventing in itself,” he says. “If you have a good idea for a machine, we’ll make it.
“I might be competing again at this year’s Tullamore Show. I don’t want to give anything away but our idea will save a lot of time on farm — that’s all I’ll say.”
The Easy Arm range now has a version which has lights and reflective plates for road work.
It allows for the ring feeder to be moved to a fresh site, and the user can unwrap the bale while it is safely on the ground.
The cost of the Easy Arm on its own without the bale handler is €1,000 excluding VAT. It comes equipped with brackets and can be attached to any other make of bale handler.
With the bale handler, it costs €1,400 plus VAT.
Blue Bull Machinery also supply a range of spare parts in Ireland, UK and around the world.
Their products have won many awards in various agricultural shows and competitions around the country. Darragh was also named as Offaly’s Best Young Entrepreneur in 2016.
€175,000 prize fund at Tullamore Show
This year’s Tullamore Show, Ireland’s largest one-day agricultural show, will take place on Sunday, August 14 at the Butterfield Estate, Blueball, Co Offaly.
Competitors will take part in over 1,000 classes, with a total prize fund of €175,000.
The National Inventions Competition is sponsored by the Farming Independent, WR Shaw and Glenngorey Pumps.
Closing date for all hardcopy entries is Friday, July 1 and closing date for all online entries is Wednesday, July 6.
A new category, Inventions in Renewable Energy, is sponsored by the Farming independent.