View Full Version : Hay baling question... what would you charge?

Jun. 28, 2012, 09:50 AM
Wondering what should be charged to rake and bale hay. The owner will cut and condition, but needs it raked and baled and just dropped in the field. Any ideas what the going rate would be per bale for this kind of service?

Thanks in advance!

Tamara in TN
Jun. 28, 2012, 09:53 AM
I'd charge a flat rate by the hour but that is just me,as you are not responsible for thin fields.
in 2008 the rate was at least $2/bale to cover costs:


Jun. 28, 2012, 10:41 AM
Ouch, $2 in 2008 is pretty high.

Our rate here is about $1.25/bale dropped in the field, $1.50 stacked on the wagon. Plus a haul fee to cover cost of fuel to get machinery to your location. Bales usually around 70lbs, but less if you prefer. Rates may be adjusted depending on quantity (over/under 100ac, etc).

However, he can be picky about the fields he does... he won't do fields that are too small (less than 50ac total to bale) or too thin to be worth his time. He's usually pretty good at giving a consultation and estimate of what your field will produce, and how you can improve it.

Jun. 28, 2012, 11:01 AM
DH did that one year as a favor- he charged $1/bale just to bale- it was raked and ready to go. It was less than a mile down the road so no equipment hauling was necessary.

Jun. 28, 2012, 01:22 PM
I pay $2.00 a bale to get my three acre field cut/raked/baled. Totally not worth their time, but they're a neighbor, are doing the field literally next to that one anyway, and have their cows on a five acre field of ours for free, so they do it with minimal complaints. :) Plus I buy the additional 400 bales I need off them for the going local price.

I agree with the others who said to figure out an hourly (including your time/supplies/fuel) and do it that way.

Jun. 28, 2012, 03:24 PM
My neighbor down the road does custom baling. Last year we needed him to cut ( we raked) .We started to do small squares but rain was coming, so i called him to finish the baling and load it in our barn. 9 acres of alfalfa/ grass. He does 800 pound large squares. We got 46 bales off the field from him. His bill was $ 646.00 and it took him about 2 hours to bale and load total . I can tell you I was shocked at the bill! But just as he put the last bale into the barn the heavens opened. You are paying for time, fuel, twine etc.. So don't undersell yourself. $ 2.00 a bale doesn't sound off.

Tamara in TN
Jun. 28, 2012, 04:13 PM
You are paying for time, fuel, twine etc.. So don't undersell yourself. $ 2.00 a bale doesn't sound off.

and do not forget the SKILLED labor it takes to run the machines properly

that is something that one learns after years....you don't just jump on a tractor and just start working hay...no matter if it is tedding or raking or cutting or baling and finally removal from the field...no one should give that service away


Jun. 30, 2012, 01:11 PM
$1.75- $2.00 a bale here in Pennsylvania! A bargin if you ask me!

Has anyone looked at the price of equipment lately???

Jun. 30, 2012, 02:20 PM
I pay $2 a bale for cutting, raking and baling, from a neighbor.

Jun. 30, 2012, 10:02 PM
We paid $1.10 per 60# square bale last year...cut, raked and baled.
The baler shoots it into a huge wagon.
All his equipment/gas.
If we rake - with his rake/ our tractor - he takes $100 off our total bill.

We use our tractor to pull wagons to barn and we unload into our loft.
We put in at least 1000.

We also pay our unloading/stacking helpers $10/hour.

My Two Cents
Jun. 30, 2012, 10:40 PM

Different state but shouldn't be too far off.

Jul. 1, 2012, 05:53 PM
As another poster said $1.50- $2.00 is the going rate around here SE PA. I won’t do it for less then $2 and that’s only when I have the time. The problem with hiring people to bale off a field is the fact that when the time is right for making hay EVERYONE is making hay. So, unless you are in an area that has the good fortune of having exceptionally long baling conditions your field maybe the last to get done. By then it is usually over the top and your are baling sticks and a lot of dead leaf. Alfalfa goes over the top quite quickly also. The best deal is to split the yield with the baler. Then they have a vested interested.
Remember you are not paying for time but for experience and expensive equipment that is only used several times a year. It is also prone to breakdown and can be expensive to fix. It cost $2,800 to rebuild the knotter on my NH 570 baler last year. And guess what it only breaks when you are using it. So unless it is fixed quickly there’s a very good chance what is laying in the field will be lost or at best moderate to crappy. And the field still has to be cleaned up. And it is a lot easier to put up good hay then bad as the saying goes. I know I have gotten several t-shirts.

Jul. 1, 2012, 06:34 PM
I don't think the costs/prices mentioned are too far off either. Here in the upper midwest that's about what Ive paid; between $1 & $2/bale depending on what my field yields. (I can have some control over my yield since we apply the fertilizer & can choose the timing of it.)

I have the next door neighbor (beef farmer) cut, rake, and bale my ten acres. I usually call him a bit in advance and he'll do mine pretty much when I ask. He always kids me that I'm early when I call, but by the time the weather is right & the equipment ready to roll, it seems like we're spot on.

All DH & I do is pick up and load bales into our barn (DH can usually find a couple from his migrant labor crew who are game to earn a few extra bucks & a pizza.) I get great quality hay and really no hassle.

DH is in another aspect of the ag business & we know what it costs to own, run , & maintain equipment. I'm more than happy to pay my neighbor so I don't have the cost of haying equipment that gets very limited use. I'm also very thankful that he has been great to work with. More than once we've been picking up bales right behind the baler and pulling the last wagon into the barn as the rain clouds let loose. (What I'd give for that rain right now though.)

Jul. 5, 2012, 08:12 PM
For this year, mine is 1.75/bale, whole 5 cents up from last year. Equipment is expensive and getting more sophisticated all the time. We have a farm and heavy equipment repair business, and know repairs can be costly. Add in that most do it as a hobby/labor of love, and anyone willing is harder to find.