Maintenance and patience are key to tractor safety
With tractors becoming more and more complicated, the basics are still essential for safe operation. Alistair Chambers reports.

1 Daily checks: It is always important to carry out daily checks on your tractor before you drive it to ensure everything is in working order. Make sure the tractor is in safe operating condition. Check the lights are working, keep steps clean at all times for access and check the PTO and lift arm controls.

2 Safe stop procedure: Always practice the safe stop procedure. Cut back the throttle in good time, wait until the tractor has slowed down sufficiently, press the clutch pedal, apply brakes gradually, always park in a suitable location, stop the engine and apply the handbrake, lower all hydraulically mounted equipment and finally, remove the key.

3 Safe tractor position method: Carry out the safe tractor position method. When getting in and out of the tractor, always use access steps and hand supports. Make sure to adjust the seat position to operate the controls comfortably and adjust the mirror for a clear view.

4 Keep tractor clear of hazards: Always keep floors, doors and pedals clear and keep your boots clean. Do not keep items like tools, draw bar pins, ropes, etc, on the cab floor as these cause easy distraction when driving and can cause accidents.

5 Be aware of all blind spots: When driving, ensure that there is nobody near you before starting the engine. Always watch out for people, obstacles and blind spots. Take time to clean windows and mirrors for visibility and always check that the brakes are locked together.

6 Take your time and be aware: When driving, never move the tractor until you are fully aware of how all controls operate and where they are. Take your time and never rush when operating the tractor. Use throttle-correct procedure for slowing down. When reversing, use mirrors and use the horn to warn bystanders. Lower your gears gradually when preparing to stop.

Hitches should be kept in good condition and used correctly at all times.

7 Use the correct hitch system: When hitching, always make sure you use the right hitch system. Only use the controls from the tractor seat and never stand between the tractor and other machines or behind them. Never stand with your feet under or near draw bars and ensure that jacks, skids and other supports are used and maintained.

8 Experience necessary: Supervise inexperienced people when hitching and unhitching trailers and implements. Never get between a hydraulically mounted machine and the tractor or place your feet under parts that can collapse, eg a drawbar.

9 Always check the terrain: When in the tractor and carrying out work, always make sure the terrain over which the tractor is driven is free from hazards such as steep slopes or excavations.

10 Beware of danger from overhead lines and pylons: Tractors or machinery should never be operated if a danger from overhead electricity lines exists. With technology always moving forward, it is particularly important to not rely completely on Autosteer or other technology.

There have been examples in other countries of operators suffering major injury or death having allowed a tractor to collide with pylons or poles while technology was doing the steering.

Safe Family Farms.

Two injured in under-age tractor driving incident
Police in Northern Ireland said two juveniles were injured in an incident with a tractor driven by a third one.

The PSNI's Cookstown unit said on its Facebook page that it joined two ambulances and paramedics at the scene in Coagh, Co Tyrone this Sunday.

"Two juveniles fell from a tractor being driven by a third juvenile," police said. "Both sustained injuries significant enough that they required transfer by ambulance to hospital. The tractor should not have been on the road and should not have been carrying passengers."

Officers have prepared a file for the Public Prosecution Service against the driver for "a range of offences," adding that the incident "could have been a lot worse".

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Record-breaking numbers for Texel National
It was all go in the Texel ring of the NSBA championships with over 200 sheep forward.

The Texel breed shone brightest at this year’s NSBA championships, making up nearly a third of all the exhibits present. Over 220 Texel sheep, a record-breaking number, made their way to the Kilkenny mart to compete for the title of supreme Texel national champion 2018.

Exhibitors from 16 countries descended on Cillín Hill for the championships, showing the want and desire that the national title holds among breeders.

Given the task of the judging the show was former chair of the British Texel Sheep Society and recognised breeder Henry Gamble. Henry, from Bangor in Co Down, runs the Springwell flock of both elite pedigree and commercial rams which has sold rams as high as 38,000gns.

Following a strenuous number of hours judging, he eventually found his champion in the form of Mullan You Beauty, HBN1601411. This exceptional ewe, jointly owned by John Neville of Thornville Texels and Malachy McMeel of Corry Hill Texels, had caught the eye of many onlookers of the Growvite national championships throughout the day and ticked all the boxes for judge Gamble.

Lead the way You Beauty

Having secured the aged ewe class and female championship, You Beauty went all the way to be tapped out as overall champion. Originally bred by Brian Hanthorn, this powerful ewe was purchased by the duo at his production sale last December. Sired by the 32,000gns Garngour Upper Class, this stand-out ewe is out of a Haddo Ringleader-bred dam.

A testament to the quality in the ages ewe class, the second prize winner followed the champion all the way to the end, picking up reserve female and reserve overall championship on her way. The reserve champion HUI 16076 was owned by J,C & M McHugh’s Greenhill flock. This homebred first-crop ewe is by Maineview Will-I-Am and out a dam by McArthur Prince of Dance.

Male champion on the day went to Ronan Gallagher and his Enniscrone flock. Although absent himself on the day, his sheep were brought out to an expert standard and duly received their reward. Claiming the championship was the first prize winner from the ram lamb class, GAI1801797, which stood top of a strong line up of over 20 lambs. This stylish tight-skinned lamb is sired by 32,000gns Tophill Wallstreet and out of a ewe by Strathbogie Terminator.

Reserve champion male came from the shearling ram class in the form of UVI1701330 Thornville Alberto. Exhibited by the Greenhill flock, this young ram was purchased from John Neville at last year’s premier sale in Blessington. Breeding of this ewe includes the 20,00gns Knap You’re the Man and Straghbogie Python.

Class 1 Growvite Aged Ram

1 Anne Murphy, HUI 16069 Greenhill Yemen Boy, by Hillcrest Wagner.

2 D& E McManamon and A Donnelly, HAK1601044 Knock Yazoo by Tophill Wallstreet.

3 S&G Rothwell, MKI1600581 Ballinacurra Yukka by Greenhill Victorious.

Class 2 Growvite Aged Ewe

1 John Neville and Malachy McMeel, HBN1601411 Mullan You Beauty by Garngour Upper Class.

2 J,C & M McHugh, HUI 16076 by Maineview Will-I-Am.

3 Anne Murphy, PXI15057 by Oberstown Tuff.

Class 3 Growvite Shearling Ram

1 J,C & M McHugh’s, UVI1701330 Thornville Alberto by Knap You’re the Man.

2 Martin Walsh, GAI1701662 Enniscrone A-Lister by Tophill Union Jack.

3 John Neville, UVI1701384 Thornville Art Attack by Thornville Yogi Bear.

Class 4 Growvite Shearling Ewe

1 Mary Gallagher, YGE1700822 by Urris Wishfull.

2 D&E McManamon, DEE1705542 by Garngour Vintage.

3 D&E McManamon, DEE1705533 by Garngour Vintage.

Class 5 Growvite Ram lamb born before 1 March

1 Ronan Gallagher, GAI1801797 by Tophill Wallstreet.

2 M&P Treacy, PTF1800752 by Teigluim Apache.

3 Fergal O’Se, FSE1801123 by Teigluim Young Gun.

Class 6 Growvite Ram Lamb born after 1 March

1 John Neville, UVI1801373, by Milcomb Axel.

2 D&E McManamon, DEE1805648 by Knock Yazoo.

3 John Neville, UVI1801374 by Midcombe Axel.

Class 7 Growvite Ewe Lamb born before 1 March

1 Anthony Donnelly, DII1801329 by Knock Yazoo.

2 Ronan Gallagher, GAI1801810 by Teiglum Young Gun.

3 Kenneth Bird, BIE1802075 by Mullan Wild Bill.

Class 8 Growvite Ewe lamb born after 1 March

1 A&P O’Keeffe, OKI180631 by Wydden Arbenig.

2 D&E McManamon, DEE1805648 by Knock Yazoo.

3 D&EMcManamon, DEE1805641 by Knock Yazoo.

Class 9 Growvite Novice Ram Lamb

1 John Kidd, ZNE1807508 by Treemore Will.

2 B&D O’Dowd, FGE1800262 by Teiglum Young Gun.

3 B&D O’Dowd, FGE1800267 by Figart Ace.

Class 10 Growvite Novice ewe lamb

1 Dwayne Shiels, SWF1800703, by Stainton Vigilante.

2 Michael Haverty, HHE1802559 by Procters Yabba Dabba Doo.

3 Michael Haverty, HHE1802580 by Procters Yabba Dabba Doo.

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