• Welcome to the Chronicle Forums.
    Please complete your profile. The forums and the rest of www.chronofhorse.com has single sign-in, so your log in information for one will automatically work for the other. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Chronicle of the Horse.

Announcement

Collapse

Forum rules and no-advertising policy

As a participant on this forum, it is your responsibility to know and follow our rules. Please read this message in its entirety.

Board Rules

1. You’re responsible for what you say.
As outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, The Chronicle of the Horse and its affiliates, as well Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., the developers of vBulletin, are not legally responsible for statements made in the forums.

This is a public forum viewed by a wide spectrum of people, so please be mindful of what you say and who might be reading it—details of personal disputes are likely better handled privately. While posters are legally responsible for their statements, the moderators may in their discretion remove or edit posts that violate these rules. Users have the ability to modify or delete their own messages after posting, but administrators generally will not delete posts, threads or accounts upon request.

Outright inflammatory, vulgar, harassing, malicious or otherwise inappropriate statements and criminal charges unsubstantiated by a reputable news source or legal documentation will not be tolerated and will be dealt with at the discretion of the moderators.

2. Conversations in horse-related forums should be horse-related.
The forums are a wonderful source of information and support for members of the horse community. While it’s understandably tempting to share information or search for input on other topics upon which members might have a similar level of knowledge, members must maintain the focus on horses.

3. Keep conversations productive, on topic and civil.
Discussion and disagreement are inevitable and encouraged; personal insults, diatribes and sniping comments are unproductive and unacceptable. Whether a subject is light-hearted or serious, keep posts focused on the current topic and of general interest to other participants of that thread. Utilize the private message feature or personal email where appropriate to address side topics or personal issues not related to the topic at large.

4. No advertising in the discussion forums.
Posts in the discussion forums directly or indirectly advertising horses, jobs, items or services for sale or wanted will be removed at the discretion of the moderators. Use of the private messaging feature or email addresses obtained through users’ profiles for unsolicited advertising is not permitted.

Company representatives may participate in discussions and answer questions about their products or services, or suggest their products on recent threads if they fulfill the criteria of a query. False "testimonials" provided by company affiliates posing as general consumers are not appropriate, and self-promotion of sales, ad campaigns, etc. through the discussion forums is not allowed.

Paid advertising is available on our classifieds site and through the purchase of banner ads. The tightly monitored Giveaways forum permits free listings of genuinely free horses and items available or wanted (on a limited basis). Items offered for trade are not allowed.

Advertising Policy Specifics
When in doubt of whether something you want to post constitutes advertising, please contact a moderator privately in advance for further clarification. Refer to the following points for general guidelines:

Horses – Only general discussion about the buying, leasing, selling and pricing of horses is permitted. If the post contains, or links to, the type of specific information typically found in a sales or wanted ad, and it’s related to a horse for sale, regardless of who’s selling it, it doesn’t belong in the discussion forums.

Stallions – Board members may ask for suggestions on breeding stallion recommendations. Stallion owners may reply to such queries by suggesting their own stallions, only if their horse fits the specific criteria of the original poster. Excessive promotion of a stallion by its owner or related parties is not permitted and will be addressed at the discretion of the moderators.

Services – Members may use the forums to ask for general recommendations of trainers, barns, shippers, farriers, etc., and other members may answer those requests by suggesting themselves or their company, if their services fulfill the specific criteria of the original post. Members may not solicit other members for business if it is not in response to a direct, genuine query.

Products – While members may ask for general opinions and suggestions on equipment, trailers, trucks, etc., they may not list the specific attributes for which they are in the market, as such posts serve as wanted ads.

Event Announcements – Members may post one notification of an upcoming event that may be of interest to fellow members, if the original poster does not benefit financially from the event. Such threads may not be “bumped” excessively. Premium members may post their own notices in the Event Announcements forum.

Charities/Rescues – Announcements for charitable or fundraising events can only be made for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. Special exceptions may be made, at the moderators’ discretion and direction, for board-related events or fundraising activities in extraordinary circumstances.

Occasional posts regarding horses available for adoption through IRS-registered horse rescue or placement programs are permitted in the appropriate forums, but these threads may be limited at the discretion of the moderators. Individuals may not advertise or make announcements for horses in need of rescue, placement or adoption unless the horse is available through a recognized rescue or placement agency or government-run entity or the thread fits the criteria for and is located in the Giveaways forum.

5. Do not post copyrighted photographs unless you have purchased that photo and have permission to do so.

6. Respect other members.
As members are often passionate about their beliefs and intentions can easily be misinterpreted in this type of environment, try to explore or resolve the inevitable disagreements that arise in the course of threads calmly and rationally.

If you see a post that you feel violates the rules of the board, please click the “alert” button (exclamation point inside of a triangle) in the bottom left corner of the post, which will alert ONLY the moderators to the post in question. They will then take whatever action, or no action, as deemed appropriate for the situation at their discretion. Do not air grievances regarding other posters or the moderators in the discussion forums.

Please be advised that adding another user to your “Ignore” list via your User Control Panel can be a useful tactic, which blocks posts and private messages by members whose commentary you’d rather avoid reading.

7. We have the right to reproduce statements made in the forums.
The Chronicle of the Horse may copy, quote, link to or otherwise reproduce posts, or portions of posts, in print or online for advertising or editorial purposes, if attributed to their original authors, and by posting in this forum, you hereby grant to The Chronicle of the Horse a perpetual, non-exclusive license under copyright and other rights, to do so.

8. We reserve the right to enforce and amend the rules.
The moderators may delete, edit, move or close any post or thread at any time, or refrain from doing any of the foregoing, in their discretion, and may suspend or revoke a user’s membership privileges at any time to maintain adherence to the rules and the general spirit of the forum. These rules may be amended at any time to address the current needs of the board.

Please see our full Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Thanks for being a part of the COTH forums!

(Revised 1/26/16)
See more
See less

Hay Production Questions

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Hay Production Questions

    We're property shopping, and one of the farms we looked at mentioned they grew their own hay. I've never even had a stray thought about growing hay, so I have lots of questions...

    I imagine it's not as easy as cutting whatever grows and baling it up. So what goes into it? Seeding? Fertilizing? How often is this done? What kind of costs and time and equipment are involved?

    What is the production per acre, on average? As in, about how many square bales (the small ones, 20-30 pounds each) can one acre provide per cutting (average)? How many cuttings are there per year, and how many of those are suitable for horses? I'm in IL, btw. I'm sure those answers vary depending on region.

    Is it worth doing? We're looking at properties between 6-10 acres for maximum 5 horses. About half would be hay. Can that produce enough to sustain five horses for a year, or would I have to buy more? Would it be cheaper, all things considered, to just buy all my hay and use the hay fields for pasture, than try and bale my own?

    Sorry for the seemingly dumb questions, but like I said, hay production has never crossed my mind when considering property so I never paid attention to the info when it was around.

    Thanks!!!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Tiffani B View Post
    We're property shopping, and one of the farms we looked at mentioned they grew their own hay. I've never even had a stray thought about growing hay, so I have lots of questions...

    I imagine it's not as easy as cutting whatever grows and baling it up. So what goes into it? Seeding? Fertilizing? How often is this done? What kind of costs and time and equipment are involved?

    What is the production per acre, on average? As in, about how many square bales (the small ones, 20-30 pounds each) can one acre provide per cutting (average)? How many cuttings are there per year, and how many of those are suitable for horses? I'm in IL, btw. I'm sure those answers vary depending on region.

    Is it worth doing? We're looking at properties between 6-10 acres for maximum 5 horses. About half would be hay. Can that produce enough to sustain five horses for a year, or would I have to buy more? Would it be cheaper, all things considered, to just buy all my hay and use the hay fields for pasture, than try and bale my own?

    Sorry for the seemingly dumb questions, but like I said, hay production has never crossed my mind when considering property so I never paid attention to the info when it was around.

    Thanks!!!
    First off, it depends on what kind of hay you want to grow.

    Grass hay (orchardgrass, timothy, etc) is usually cheapest to plant. It can yield around 200 bales/acre (about 65-lb bales). It's usually cut twice a year (June, Aug/Sept). You can pasture your horses in the field after it's baled.

    Alfalfa seed is more expensive. But the resulting hay is also more nutritious and more valuable (if you plan to sell it). You can usually get 3 or 4 cuttings per year; the latter cuts are better quality, but less quantity. Average is about 150-200 bales per acre, annually. Not really suitable for pasture grazing, though.


    Soil testing is a MUST when growing hay. That will tell you how much fertilizer, lime, potash, etc to add. Good soil will produce the best quality hay and maximize your acreage.

    You will also likely have to spray for weeds.


    You can hire a hay farmer to cut, rake, and bale your hay. It will cost about $1.20-2.00 per bale, depending on location and equipment. This is MUCH cheaper than buying your own equipment and trying to do it yourself!


    In short-- if you have the extra acreage, especially if it has some good existing orchard or timothy, growing your own hay can save you a bit. And you know exactly where it came from, and what's in it. But it will require an investment in the land, your horses won't be able to graze on it for part of the year, and if the weather goes bad (too much rain, or not enough) you may still end up buying it.
    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein

    ~AJ~

    Comment


    • #3
      No offense to AJ but we dont go that in depth and our hay turns out fine...lovely alfalfa grass mix. If its already planted your going to be in good shape, spray for weeds after each baling, but as for soil testing and all that, I wouldn't bother, we never have and we have never had a problem. It's grass for crying outloud! We live in Iowa and get 4 sometimes 5 cuttings between may and late september. As for equipment and baling, it sucks but if your going to be there long term I'd get my own, you can pick up a used rake cheap, balers a bit more pricey and a you can get a bush hog for mowing for 300 or 400 bucks. Probably looking at aroind 1500 altogether for rake baler mower and rack. not that expensive, of coure you need a tractor...the crappy part is the work, its always hot and its never fun but to save on 4.50 a bale hay it might be worth it

      Comment


      • #4
        also the biggest thing when making your own hay is timing, try to find a dry spell so you can cut it in the morning one day, rake it in the afternoon the next day and bale it in the afternoon the day afterthat, you need at least 24 hours drying on each side before you bale 36 is better, with 5 acres of hay at 150 an acre your looking at 600+ bales a year, depending on your feeding habits, you shouldnt have to buy very much extra!

        Comment


        • #5
          Not only is it hot, itchy, back breaking work, but it often happens at inconvenient times. You have to watch the weather forecast, take time off work.... make sure you get home mid-day to rake. Pray it doesn't rain, and the fields are dry enough to drive on. As the saying goes, you have to "make hay when the sun shines". No matter what day that happens to be.

          On the up side, there's not much more satisfying than a mow full of perfect hay you made yourself.

          After years and years and years of doing her own hay, my mother finally threw in the towel because of the expense and difficulty finding help. I can't say that finding a reliable source for good hay has been any easier, but at least it doesn't rule your life.
          ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with SmartAlex - we have about 15 acres of brome grass that was here when we bought it. We have fertilized most years and weed ourselves, but pay someone to cut & bale it. The amount we get varies, but we know it's good quality. We also turn the horses out to graze it after it gets a little growth after baling. The biggest drawback is it is getting almost impossible to find good help - we get between 800 to 1000 bales and it has to be picked up and put in the barn before it get wet & ruined, so you have a short window to do a LOT of work !

            Comment


            • #7
              You might want to see if there are any people who will
              do custom baling in the area. If you are going to get a
              tractor or teach a team of horses to work in harness; you
              can do the cutting and raking. A mower and a rake are
              not terribly expensive if you have farm auctions around
              where you can buy used implements. A tractor will run
              anywhere from a couple thousand (for a smallish older one)
              to tens of thousands for a fancy new one. Harness for work
              horses will run at least a thousand (plus you will have to
              then feed and care for the horses).

              The one important thing to mention whenever asking
              about hay is where the location is. Hay is variable, some
              areas get up to a dozen cuttings a year, others get only
              one. Cooperative weather is an issue some areas,
              irrigation in others.
              Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
              Elmwood, Wisconsin

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks everyone!

                The amount of work is a little daunting - it's just me and my soon to be hubby, and we both work full time jobs. So I'd likely have to hire someone to cut and bale. And if the savings is minimal - for 600 bales of hay, that would feed five horses for about what, six months or so? Vs. the price of buying 600 bales for $2400?

                Definitely need to weigh the pros and cons.

                Comment


                • #9
                  holy smokes our 5 horses, 3 are yearlings but only use about 2 bales a day in the summer and 3 in the winter! the work sucks but i think its being over blown here, for 5 acres your looking at 2 hours to mow and 2 to rake, those are easy jobs just sit on the tractor, when we bale we have someone drive the tractor and someone walk beside the baler and throw the bales up on the rack and some one on the rack stacking, thats gonna take you a good saturdays work but its by no means an impossible task, and if you wind up with extra, which you might depending on your field you could get some serious extra cash in the winter

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    But you have to offset the cost of the hay with the cost of all that equipment. You can't buy a tractor, mower, rake and baler for $2400. Nevermind the learning curve of making hay. It's frustrating when you know what you're doing!

                    If she can find someone to do the work for her and she pays a small amount per bale, then that would be the best solution -also we don't know what part of the country you are in - you don't get 4-5 cuttings in New England. You get 3 if it's a great year. Last year we got one and then no rain so 2nd was really skimpy.

                    I do make my own hay and love it, but it's a big fat pain. I take time off from work and I worry about the weather and now that I have fewer horses to feed, I only make what I need and have a deal with another farmer to take the rest for his cows.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We hay about 50 acres. It's a pain in the butt!!! Cutting this week, but it got high because this is the first week we have had a break in the weather. Our mower (haybine) got bogged down and is now broke. Had to get another hay farmer to finish mowing for us. It is 95 degrees out with a heat index of 105.

                      We usually use two tractors, one to cut and rake and one to bale. One tractor is broke, so now we have one tractor to do all this plus take it off the equipment every night and put it back on the manure spreader. It MAY storm tonight, 30% chance. We have one small field with the hay baled laying on the ground until we can get help to stack. Our equipment alone has cost way more than spending that money on hay. At least now, since I only have a few horses and I lease out the rest of my barns. The up side is we can sell it to the lessee's for much less than they can buy hay and my horses still love our hay over all the other hay I buy. And it smells good once the job is done. Personally, I would not do it again, but we do have the equipment paid for so hubby insists and then cusses the whole time. UGGHHH!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        PITA!!!!!

                        And 6-10 acres is sub-optimal for 5 horses to start with. Unless I'm missing something, not recommended.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by secretariat View Post
                          PITA!!!!!

                          And 6-10 acres is sub-optimal for 5 horses to start with. Unless I'm missing something, not recommended.
                          Just wondering what you mean by that -- do you think 6-10 acres is not enough land for 5 to live? Or not enough land to feed 5?
                          Jigga:
                          Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have a similar situation here -- looking to buy 65 acres, and a neighbouring farmer already takes the hay off the fields because the fields are not currently being used otherwise. So if I buy the land, I may try to make a deal with the farmer where he bales it and takes all but what I need (2-3 horses)? What is a good deal to make for that kind of set up?
                            Jigga:
                            Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Hilary View Post
                              But you have to offset the cost of the hay with the cost of all that equipment. You can't buy a tractor, mower, rake and baler for $2400. Nevermind the learning curve of making hay. It's frustrating when you know what you're doing!

                              If she can find someone to do the work for her and she pays a small amount per bale, then that would be the best solution -also we don't know what part of the country you are in - you don't get 4-5 cuttings in New England. You get 3 if it's a great year. Last year we got one and then no rain so 2nd was really skimpy.
                              It's buried in my original post - I'm in IL. I believe we get three cuttings here but I'm not sure. I hear the term "third cutting" a lot but I've never heard a higher one locally.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Saultgirl - anything can be managed, 5 horses with stalls could happily occupy 2 acres very productively, but there would be very little pasture growth - all hay and grain, mostly drylots for turnout. IMO, MINIMUM is 3 acres per horse for full turnout, so 15 acres would be required to keep 5 horses from beating everything into dust. 5 horses on 10 acres would be about 12 hour turnout, max, less during dry periods and winter. All IMO, but there's a lot of experience in Kentucky behind that statement.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You can find a local farmer willing to do it on shares sometimes. It varies locale to locale and on what type of hay, but 70/30 is average around here, with the farmer getting the greater share.
                                  Originally posted by The Saddle
                                  Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    we keep 5 horses on 5 acres, they go in at night for grain and hay, but other than that thye are out, our pasture is not "dust" but they keep it moved pretty short

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      i agree that your not gong to recoup your investment in 1 year, but if you are going to be there 10-15 or 20 years, thats a lot of money at 2400 a year, you can get a good used baler for 1000, mower for 300-600 and a rake for 250 or so, a nice utillity tractor from after the vietnam era is probably gonna run about 5k, so youre looking at 3to4 years to have your investment pay for itself

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        We did this for the last 15 years with about 25 acres. Found a farmer willing to split. He would cut, rake and bale and keep half and we got the other half. No money exchanged.

                                        Worked out pretty well and all we had to do was unload our half off the wagons.

                                        Comment

                                        Working...
                                        X