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Cutting my own hay?

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  • Cutting my own hay?

    I have eleven acres, and only use about half of it for the horses. Nothing wrong with the other land, but it's more convientet for me to keep them closer to the house.

    I've been thinking of uses for the rest of the land. I suggested renting it as grazing land, but my OH veto'd the idea. He would like to save some money, and growing hay seems to be a good fit. However, I've never been involved in the growing/cutting/baling process, so I'm a bit clueless.

    I'm not sure what I've got growing there exactly, but I can find out.

    (Warning- idiot questions below )

    How much hay do you think I could get from six acres? Does it depend on how tall the grass is when it's cut?

    I'm sure I'm missing questions I wanted to ask, so please tell me if I am. Thank you!
    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

  • #2
    Just keep in mind that the equipment is EXPENSIVE and might not be worth your time. You're looking at $3000 at least, for just the baler (my hay guy spent $10,000 on his.), and then you need the tractor to pull it, the rake, and all of the other hay equipment. You're also going to need to learn how to USE all of this stuff, and of course at least one thing is going to break per year, and need some sort of repairs from a qualified equipment repair person. Of course, if you already have this stuff, there isn't too much of an investment.

    You are also going to need to take care of the fields; fertilizer, reseeding when necessary, etc. Plus the constant anxiety of not being able to cut at the right time, etc. It's also hard sweaty work.

    BUT, that being said....if you do the math and it turns out your hay equipment is going to pay for itself in a few years, then go for it. I have 3 horses, for example, and with the recent hay prices around here, it's not worth it for me to buy the equipment....it would take over ten years to "pay for itself", and it's not worth the hassle. HOWEVER, I am lucky enough to have an old baler (and the rest of the bailing crew of equipment) sitting in my back 40, and the $500 to fix them all up is SO WORTH IT, considering I spend more than that in hay each year. I also have someone (my father) well-versed in running all this equipment.

    I have ten acres, and that will DEFINITELY fill my hay quota (400 bales) in a single cutting, plus some left over to sell. If that gives you any idea.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      See, something I've missed- I would hire a contractor to cut/fertilize/etc, rather than buying the equipment.

      I could be looking at 200-250 bales? That would be worth it.
      Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

      Comment


      • #4
        Not worth it. Just fence it and let it be grazed. I have been trying like mad to get a hay farmer out to cut my hay field. Guess what? When the sun shines, they make their OWN hay and yours is very low on the totem pole. To do it yourself...again, not worth it.

        Comment


        • #5
          If you don't do something with it, the field will grow up in brush and eventually be taken over by trash trees. Lots of property owners around here let a neighbor farmer hay their land just to get it cut.

          The one problem I've heard about people hiring somebody to cut and bale their hay is sometimes the contracter is a bit....um.... "casual" about making sure it gets done at the right time. These guys usually have a lot of people they are putting up hay for (and often have their own haying to do) so it's hard to get to the top of anyone's "priority list".

          Comment


          • #6
            Welllllllllll, if you can find someone to do it, and actually get them to sign a contract, then it might be worth it. Otherwise, don't bother, and just fence it in with a strand of electric to use for grazing. Like the other poster mentioned; when the weather is nice enough for haying (which, this year, was just about never..) that farmer is going to be haying his hay, not dragging all his stuff over to do your field.

            I saw TONS of panicky posts on craigslist this year, of people looking to get their fields cut, with no response.

            Comment


            • #7
              Good luck finding someone who will cut and bale it for you and make it worth your while price wise.

              We looked into that and it was not worth it.

              Since we had a tractor already we shopped via craigslist and word of mouth and found an old haybine, rake and baler. (They are way old but New Holland still sells parts for them.) If you shop around you can find reasonably priced equipment that only needs minimal work to run right.

              The older farmer around the corner has had a blast teaching Mr. Trub how to tweek the knotter and the ins and outs of cutting and baling.

              It felt great to plant and then cut our own field.

              I think we did just about four acres this year.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                It's already fenced, and it gets topped every couple of months when it's growing.

                Thanks for you thoughts- I'll show them to my OH and let you know what he says.
                Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kookicat View Post
                  I have eleven acres, and only use about half of it for the horses. Nothing wrong with the other land, but it's more convientet for me to keep them closer to the house.

                  I've been thinking of uses for the rest of the land. I suggested renting it as grazing land, but my OH veto'd the idea. He would like to save some money, and growing hay seems to be a good fit. However, I've never been involved in the growing/cutting/baling process, so I'm a bit clueless.

                  I'm not sure what I've got growing there exactly, but I can find out.

                  (Warning- idiot questions below )

                  How much hay do you think I could get from six acres? Does it depend on how tall the grass is when it's cut?

                  I'm sure I'm missing questions I wanted to ask, so please tell me if I am. Thank you!
                  Our 12ish acre field gets about 1800 bales over 3 cuttings.
                  We do not want to invest in the equipment or can get the day off from work as needed so a neighboring dairy farmer bales it for us. In exchange he gets half for his cows. (Grass/alfalfa mix hay). So....our 900 bales feeds ours for the winter and majically appears. (We do have to stack it in the barn though).
                  Providence Farm
                  http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When we have done any custom farming, we go to the field that is ready to be worked or harvested.
                    If two or more are ready at the same time, the customer's fields are done first, on a first come, first ready basis, ours last, even if then we may lose a crop.
                    You have to tell extra customers that they will come after your regular customers and yours is done and that they may want to find someone else if they want it done now and you have others ready to work.

                    When many fields are ready at the same time, whoever gets done first pulls over and helps others, exchanging work now and others will help you next time you are behind.

                    That is the way everyone around here operates, if they want to find any custom work.

                    I don't know how that works where the work is not steady farming, but people working after hours and just small parcels.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      wellm the deal is, since you have to cut it anyhow, might as well hay it. A neighbor might do it for you, for a fee. 6 acres def. does not warrant the purchase of all the equipment, the cost to get it will be the least, up keep and maintanance should eat up anything you save by making your own.

                      BTW, I do believe the environmentally most desirable way to keep unused fields is to cut them twice a year, either remove the cut, or mulch it while mowing.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Why not see if you can get it cut, let it cure then put it up loose? It's work but could save you some money in the long run.
                        Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                        Member: Incredible Invisbles

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You must have a friendly farmer around who will cut and bale it for half to feed his cows.
                          ... _. ._ .._. .._

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
                            You must have a friendly farmer around who will cut and bale it for half to feed his cows.
                            No, I would not really say he is just being "friendly". At the 3 to 4 bucks a bale that hay goes for here he is getting 1800 to 3600.00 worth of hay for his efforts. If he needs it (usually does) it saves him paying to buy hay. If it is a bumper crop year/has extra he can sell it. Milk prices are low/according to him he is losing money on the dairy cows at present.
                            Providence Farm
                            http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              He would be living in the UK and he may have beef cattle. And how are you valuing his time to cut, turn and bale the hay, plus the wear and tear on his equipment ? It has to be worth while to get a guy to even move his equipment.
                              ... _. ._ .._. .._

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by camohn View Post
                                No, I would not really say he is just being "friendly". At the 3 to 4 bucks a bale that hay goes for here he is getting 1800 to 3600.00 worth of hay for his efforts. If he needs it (usually does) it saves him paying to buy hay. If it is a bumper crop year/has extra he can sell it. Milk prices are low/according to him he is losing money on the dairy cows at present.

                                the break even price for commercial hay in most of the USA is just about $200/ton or $5 per 50 pounds....people who sell for less than that may find there is no input money for the next season....if they even put anything back into the soil to begin with...

                                in that regard, cutting on halves for a dairy man would be a sensible thing to do

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

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