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How to get started?


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#1 MWest

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 09:45 PM

I am currently going to college for crop and soil science's and I am wanting to get into custom baling this next summer to both help pay for college and to possibly be part of my future career in agriculture, I realize some of my questions may be hard to answer and the answers may vary, but any advice would be appreciated.

1.what would be the best way for me to start custom baling?

2. I will be saving up to buy my equipment before next summer, Ive been looking at the prices of equipment and since I am a college student and have limited resources I will be buying well used equipment, I know from baling for farmers that well used equipment equals trouble but I have to start somewhere and I plan on paying for everything with cash so I won't be in debt starting out.. Do you think this would be ok for the first couple years untill I have the resources to buy new equipment?

3.What other cost would I expect besides equipment, upkeep, and fuel?

I know theres other things I probably should know so if anyone has any thoughts or sujestions I appreciate your help...thanks.

#2 IAhaymakr

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 07:05 AM

Are you planning to start round baling or square baling? I'll assume round baling, and suggest that it might be difficult. Around here there isn't as much demand as there once was because most of the big farmers have thier own machine. The work that is left is mostly rough crap like ditches and pastures, where it is tough to get much volume in a day. Here, corn residue harvest is where the money is, but by then you will be back in school.

Your plan to keep costs down with used iron is ok, debt can really weigh you down. But breakdowns are bad too when you need to get the work done before the rain comes. Well maintained, used machinery will make you money and cause a lot of stess, at the same time.

Good luck. I started out much like you with little money and lots of sweat. It isn't easy but it can work.

#3 MWest

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 12:18 PM

yeah I am planning on baling round bales starting out but I am willing to go small squares instead if that would be better but I figure most who want custom work done would want round bales, thanks IAhaymakr for the advice....

#4 rank

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 09:41 PM

....I figure most who want custom work done would want round bales....

That has not been my experience. All the custom work I know are large squares and the rate used to be $1/ft....maybe it's $1.25 per foot by now. Also, with al the wet weather the last few years, there has been a fair amount of custom work for wrapping high moisture bales. Someone told me $12/bale I think. Almost half of that is plastic cost.

If you are going to get into balers, you really should get a dealer to send you to baler school. You need to be able to understand and work on these things yourself.

#5 MWest

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:34 PM

Ive looked at the used large square balers but right now thats a bit more money than I have, far as baler school that is something I will have to check out I never thaught of that. thanks...

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 09:05 PM

What has your research told you.....is there a market for custom rounds in your area? They are quite affordable and most farmers have their own round balers around here. Perhaps instead, there is a market for custom wrapping of rounds and large squares?

#7 MWest

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 03:12 AM

I have not talked to any custom balers in my area although I have talked to farmers, there are a few farms South of here, mainly dairy operations wanting large squares but I know where there is a sale for small squares every Saturday and that got me thinking about the possible demand for small squares, but most farmers around here bail everything in round bales...I was thinking maybe there would be a greater need for rounds but I understand that about everyone that needs rounds has a round baler. So Im left wondering which way to go,...

I will be heading down to the sell barn tomarrow and I will ask some more people about the preference of bails for custom baling and I will also check out custom wrapping... thanks.

Edited by MWest, 17 July 2010 - 03:15 AM.


#8 David in Georgia

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 10:26 AM

In my experience there's very little to no money to be made with doing rounds. Due to the fact that most everyone who needs rounds has their own equipment. In northwest Georgia here I make SOME money with rounds but not enough, but small squares on the other hand is where I make a killing. Small squares are a very profitable niche market due to everyone going to rounds. If it were me I'd go with round and square, trying to drum up as much square sales as possible and then rolling anything that wasn't good enough for squares. Advertise in local papers, craigslist, local farm publications to get as many pre sales as possible.
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#9 MWest

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 09:55 PM

In my experience there's very little to no money to be made with doing rounds. Due to the fact that most everyone who needs rounds has their own equipment. In northwest Georgia here I make SOME money with rounds but not enough, but small squares on the other hand is where I make a killing. Small squares are a very profitable niche market due to everyone going to rounds. If it were me I'd go with round and square, trying to drum up as much square sales as possible and then rolling anything that wasn't good enough for squares. Advertise in local papers, craigslist, local farm publications to get as many pre sales as possible.


The more I research and the more people I talk with. The more I am seeing a greater need for custom small and large squares.. David in Georgia you just helped confirm some of my thaughts. I was wanting to go with mainly rounds because I raise beef cattle but far as custom work I probably would be better off and find more bussiness with small squares besides if I find someone that would rather work a split on the bales rather than paying me outright to bale I know a few places I could sell them. I think I am going to start out with small squares but I am going to get a round baler as soon as I get things a rollin..

far as the hayage I am really interested in that maybe thats something I could get into but I have more researching to do on that, thanks...

#10 Westspear

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 12:07 PM

My first custom work was back in 1983. I had a 530 JD baler leased and was able to charge $6.00/bale. Ran it one summer, and turned it back. In 1995, I bought a 8465A Case IH baler, and was only able to charge $5.00/bale. My expenses sure hadn't gone down, but there just wasn't the demand for the custom round baling. If I was to get back into custom work again, it would be with either a small square baler with an accumulator, or big squares. We don't have either in this area, and I think that is the key to making custom haying work. Provide a service that isn't already there, and don't be afraid of work.

#11 MWest

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 07:19 PM

I agree Westpear, almost everyone that wants round bales has a round baler. There is some people that I know that want big squares but the big square baler is out of my price range right now. So I have decided to go with small squares because there just isnt very many people baling smalls around here. And I know of several places that buy/sell small squares and I also know there are a lot of smaller livestock handlers that will want them.

#12 hay hauler

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 09:24 PM

You need a way to pick them up.... or are you leaving that to someone else? What you can gain in price of small bales over big ones can be lost in the cost and time to make them... just something to think about.

#13 hay hauler

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 09:27 PM

I did something like you are talking about to go through school. But instead of doing what everyone else is, i chose to that what no one else wanted to do which was deal with the hay after bailed. Its a nitch i found in this area, and most profitable business that take off start as nitches.... Just something to think about. It is to the point that three custom guys sold their bale wagons and just hire me to do it.... You might find that with the bailing thing. I dont know....
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#14 MWest

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 03:39 PM

I did something like you are talking about to go through school. But instead of doing what everyone else is, i chose to that what no one else wanted to do which was deal with the hay after bailed. Its a nitch i found in this area, and most profitable business that take off start as nitches.... Just something to think about. It is to the point that three custom guys sold their bale wagons and just hire me to do it.... You might find that with the bailing thing. I dont know....


thanks hay hauler thats an idea I would have never thaught of...thats why I posted my thughts to see if I was right or if I should fine tune them more and to gain new ideas, I must say thanks for all the great responses and ideas that never crossed my mind.

As far as labor needed for small bales I understand it may become an issue but I do have a good friend that has always worked for us off and on and I know I will always have him if I need him but right now I am considering the cost of hired help. From past experinces baling I was paid by one of two ways, either so much an hour or so much a bale. I want to be fair in paying but of course I also need to make a positive bottom line.

Any ideas or prefered methods to cut down labor cost of hired help? Keep in mind I am going to do as much as I can myself.

What is the preferred method of payment to worker(s)?

#15 David in Georgia

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 10:11 PM

In my situation I have several extremely good square bale customers who help stack in the barn. I let them stack their hay in my barn for field price and after their hay is up they help stack and do so for the rest of the season. It guarantees sales and guarantees I have help stacking. I use a New Holland 1010 bale wagon to get the bales up but then have to stack by hand and elevator. I also have a few customers who only need a handful of bales a year which we trade out on x number of bales per hour of work.

#16 MWest

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 08:26 PM

In my situation I have several extremely good square bale customers who help stack in the barn. I let them stack their hay in my barn for field price and after their hay is up they help stack and do so for the rest of the season. It guarantees sales and guarantees I have help stacking. I use a New Holland 1010 bale wagon to get the bales up but then have to stack by hand and elevator. I also have a few customers who only need a handful of bales a year which we trade out on x number of bales per hour of work.


yeah thats a good idea, we have a barn we use for feeding cattle that has a hay loft but no elavator and a big pole barn with some extra room to spare so hay storage is'nt much of a problem not forshure of how many bales I could store though.

I have been talking to my grandfather about possibly renting our bottom pasture around 10 acres or so to put in alfalfa but he kinda wants to use it for grazing, so if I get him talked into it I will have hay to sale along with my custom work...hopefully.




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