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Growing Oats

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  • Growing Oats

    So my BF and I were talking the other day and I thought that it would be great if we could grow oats for our horses (and eventually a few head of cattle) He already grows hay - timothy/grass mix and eventually alfalfa too. So he's not new to this, but does it more on a hobby level. He thought it was a great idea, but we can't find anything about it or how it relates to horses.

    Does anyone here grow oats? How hard are they to grow vs hay? How much oats do you get per acre (roughly)? How many acres feed a horse? What kind of extra equipment do you need? We know we need a combine and he was already looking at the pull behind combines if he can find one. What about storage and such?

    Even a website would be great, since all we are getting is basic "how to grow oats," which are not very helpful for detailed information.

    Pretty much we want to know if it's worth it. BF loves playing with his "Big Boy" toys, so he thinks it would be a fun challange if it could be done on a small scale. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by TrakGeorge; Jan. 9, 2011, 08:58 AM. Reason: Spelling

  • #2
    I don't grow oats but I overseed my two small turnout areas with oats to give the grazing a little extra punch during the summer.

    Comment


    • #3
      Oats, like most cereal grains, is pretty easy to grow, put it in the ground and let it do its thing. The big deal is putting the seed in and taking off the crop require equipment your friend likely doesn't have - a set of diskers or an airseeder, a swather and a combine as well as a sprayer to hit the weeds before the plants hit shot blade stage AND a tractor of at least 125hp to handle the equipment. You also need a grain truck or a grain cart to haul the grain. Oats is seeded at a rate of 3-5 bushels per acre, and yields can run from 45-120 bushels per acre, depending on the year; last oats we grew went on light land and came in around 75, if I remember correctly. Seed should be in the ground by mid May and is ready to take off by September. You will also need storage for the crop, and a place to sell the excess. Grain bins run around 10K for 4500 bushels new, sometimes less at farm auctions. I can't give an estimate what seeding and harvesting equipment will cost, but it is going to be a huge cash outlay that you will never get back unless you are doing enough acreage to make a living at it and the cost is going to make your haying equipment costs look miniscule - new combines can run from around 75K to upwards of a quarter of a million dollars, air seeders from 30K and up to 150K (size dictates this), diskers are obsolete and hard to find a working set, grain trucks are double a pick-up or more, swathers I dont know, we dont have one as we straight combine everything here. Add to that the unpredictability of weather - too much rain, too little, early frost, hail, etc.

      You never mentioned what kind of acreage you are looking at, but to be honest with you, seeding an acre or two is piddly and you would be hardpressed to even get someone to custom that for you.

      Still wanna grow your own oats?
      Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

      Member: Incredible Invisbles

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      • #4
        Originally posted by TrakGeorge View Post
        So my BF and I were talking the other day and I thought that it would be great if we could grow oats for our horses (and eventually a few head of cattle)

        Pretty much we want to know if it's worth it. BF loves playing with his "Big Boy" toys, so he thinks it would be a fun challange if it could be done on a small scale. Thanks in advance.
        we grow our own hay,soybeans,corn and oats :>
        please send an email to my husband cdhowardAThighland.net
        and he can give you guys all the (manly) technical details

        by the way it is easy peasy comparatively

        Tamara in TN
        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would love to grow oats, because it's one of the easiest grains to grow (at least it is in NY where I'm originally from). But from what I hear, they don't do well in KY because it generally gets too hot too fast and other weather related stuff. And even at 75 bu/acre, that's only 2400#/acre. I'd have to plant 10 acres to come close to feeding my herd.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by shakeytails View Post
            I would love to grow oats, because it's one of the easiest grains to grow (at least it is in NY where I'm originally from). But from what I hear, they don't do well in KY because it generally gets too hot too fast and other weather related stuff. And even at 75 bu/acre, that's only 2400#/acre. I'd have to plant 10 acres to come close to feeding my herd.
            they do just fine here and we are father south than you are :>

            Tamara in TN
            Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
            I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post
              they do just fine here and we are father south than you are :>

              Tamara in TN
              I was surprised to see that you grow them. If asked local farmers here, and the guy from crop production, and they all have said oats aren't a good crop for the area. Maybe it's a micro-climate thing?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by shakeytails View Post
                I was surprised to see that you grow them. If asked local farmers here, and the guy from crop production, and they all have said oats aren't a good crop for the area. Maybe it's a micro-climate thing?
                don't know...oats are easy to grow,it's the need for a combine and combine grain head and cleaning and bagging systems and the hired men to run them all, that prevent most people from growing them.

                Tamara in TN
                Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Up here near Minneapolis/St. Paul, oats are usually planted as a companion crop for starting an alfalfa field. The oats grow first and shade the soil, thus preventing some weeds from getting a start. Alfalfa grows slower and by the time the alfalfa would be seriously shaded by the oats it is time to harvest. Locally, we can hire a combine to come and harvest. They also will bring their truck to haul to the local feed mill where we can either sell or store for later pickup and use. Oat straw is either shredded to improve the soil or it is harvested as straw and used for animal bedding.
                  Roundup ready alfalfa may put an end to the oat companion planting.

                  Oats can also be planted to supply a hay crop. Oat hay is fairly popular with horses if harvested at the right time. Of course, then you do not get any grain from the oats.
                  Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                  Elmwood, Wisconsin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How about just growing and harvesting oat hay? You already have the equipment for it. Just harvest it early enough that the grass part is still green. You can feed the oat hay to horses and cattle and have the added benefit of the additional forage.

                    chicamuxen

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chicamux View Post
                      How about just growing and harvesting oat hay? You already have the equipment for it. Just harvest it early enough that the grass part is still green. You can feed the oat hay to horses and cattle and have the added benefit of the additional forage.

                      chicamuxen
                      Just be sure to feed oat hay very fast, because the mice think they died and went to mice heaven and will sure take their share of it, where there is not that much oat left to the hay, but dirty straw.

                      We mostly farm dryland wheat, but also used to raise our own oat patch, combine it and store it in a special bin in the barn to feed the race horses in training.

                      If you don't have the equipment, you probably can find a neighbor that has a combine, grain wagons and trucks and will do that for you for a price.

                      Here, we sow our oats () for grain in February and they are harvested in June.
                      Then we may also, if it was a good year and the stubble is high, get straw bales from it too.

                      You can of course also graze oats while small as pasture for a few months, before they go to head.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks guys for the reply! Definitly some very good starting points to think of. As stated he just hobby farms it and mostly just feeds our horses. Currently he only bales about 10 acres and currently cleaning another field that weeds and trees have over taken. There's still another "wild" field that we haven't touched that we were thinking about - but neither unclaimed field has been measured.

                        Also thanks for the equipment list - he says he has sprayers and disks. A pull behind combine is a thought and the tractor can pull it - used ones are just VERY hard to find. Luckily BF and one of his uncles loves auctions so they might start keeping thier eyes open. - it doesn't hurt to look.

                        The oat hay is something to look into too, but might be too much trouble due to the mice and current storage situation of the hay.

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