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small farm getting started equipment cattle farming hay alfalfa hobby

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#1 devildog0352

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 03:24 AM

I am interested in getting into farming or having a hobby farm in addition to my full time job.

The biggest appeal to me is the principle of self reliance, being industrious, and raising my boys, not to mention the lifestyle's values. my family is from Kansas but I personally have little to no experience.

Ideally I would like to have a small hobby farm to start out with including about beef cattle, about 5 i think as well as a dairy cow, horses and chickens. I have been thinking that i would like enough land to sustain itself, meaning to me to grow enough hay and grain to fed my animals.

My question is how do I get started? What is the process for farming hay? What equipment would I need to farm the hay to feed my small time operation as well as how much land would i need to farm? If I could harvest extra hay to sell and later once I get experienced maybe expand my herd at most 25 to sell that would be the most I would be interested to do. I am not totally ignorant of the work required, meaning I have no expectations of it being easy though I am sure it will be much harder than I imagine, and I realize that there are a lot of factors that go into this, but I appreciate any help /advice you experts can give me. I am looking at either back home in Kansas or southern Idaho if that helps.

Thank you so much.

#2 swmnhay

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 06:52 AM

Win the Lottery. ;)

First off you need the land.What are your options?Buy a farm or Rent one?

Size of farm needed depends on area.Some places 1 acre per cow,some it takes over 30 acres per cow.

Basic machinery for haying.Mower,rake and baler and tractor.May also need more tractors,trailers,plow,disc,field cultivator,drill.sprayer,trailers,loaders,bale retrievers,bale wrapper,hay storage barns,hay invertor,hay conditioner,etc.

Did I say win the lottery :confused:
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#3 gradyjohn

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 07:04 AM

Wow! I guess you are looking for some tax right offs. My Dad did this back in the thirties and it is really hard. I really don't know where to start because I have not had to do this. I was reaied in farming and have a degree in Ag so it would hard to tell you. I would think you need to have a plan. Decide what you want to do the most (live stock or crops) and find a sutible place. Basic business plan ... equipment, buildings, etc. There is a guy down the road that has a small veggie farm and raises goats. A goat is cheaper to milk than a cow. I understand your idea but economics have to come into play. Feeding a dairy cow all year might cost more than a gallon at the store. Find you place, go to the extension office and get information. Meet your neighbors and ask them for help. I could not tell you what is best in Kansas ... I don't live there. I have been on and off a tractor since I was 12 so it is hard to give you advice for a new perspective. I will tell you it is satisfying to see the seeds have sprouted coming up green or a new baby calf hitting the ground. Good Luck and you always have these guys to help.

#4 somedevildawg

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 07:59 AM

I'll echo swinhay, win that lottery! You'll need cash and plenty of it, as Grady pointed out, we may want to do lots of diff things on the farm but economics come into play. Get yourself a game plan, figure out finances, or lack thereof, land requirements, how much depends on finances and size ans scope of your operation. Good luck and if the lotto doesn't cooperate.......maybe consider this little bank down the road, you know the one with a quick exit route and no rent a cops............good luck

#5 Nitram

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:35 PM

5 acres cow/calf pair good grass summer about 25lb hay per day winter salt and mineral blocks. Lottery winning might help. To start you need to keep it simple and don't spread your self too thin. If you have the moneys for land I would rent it out and learn first. There is so much to it that isn't apparent when you haven't done any of it before. Perhaps the best advice I've read on here is to work for someone else who is doing what you want to do. Martin
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#6 Teslan

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:57 PM

You could start by doing custom work for others. Like for example cutting hay. It's hard to mess up cutting hay. Baling is the trickier one. Though you do need some money to get into that. That depends on your location. For example alot of the guys on here are in the eastern U.S. and use a lot of tractor pulled mowers, swathers and such. In my area it's mostly self propelled disc swathers. As I suspect Idaho and Kansas are. Then as time goes on and you find your self getting more experienced and find good mentors and such you could learn how to bale hay and so on. There's a guy around here that started that way in the late 90s and now he owns a couple farms. Though I suspect he is up to his eyeballs in debt.

#7 deadmoose

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 07:21 PM

Chickens are easy. Give them a coop shut it at night clean food water and room to run. You will lose some to local wildlife without big fencing investments.

Beef need enough grass and hay year round and clean water. Build a five wire fence with the good wire the first time.

Milking is a real committment I will not make.

As others said lots and lots of Money!$!

Good luck.

#8 devildog0352

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 12:10 PM

working for others and chickens sounds like some great input thank you. I totally get that farming is a huge financial investment which is why im not looking to do it as a business but rather a self sustaining farm, which also requires significant capital.

i guess i am at this point just trying to get an idea of what the operation consists of and then i can take measures to learn more area specific details and make a specific plan of how to enter this endeavor. sort of like a baking recipe step by step idea of what i need and how to do it (farming hay, and cattle)

nitram- thanx loads thats some great feedback that helps a lot. another friend told me something like 1000lbs of hay /cow/month so hope fully those together is a good measure. and did you mean rent land and work on it to learn or buy the land and rent it out to others and learn from them?

smnhay- im not sure of the process so feel free to correct me but i need a discer to plow the field, then a drill to seed it, then a sprayer to fertilize and pesticide, and some sort of irrigation system (i'd be interested in different options for that) then a mower to cut the hay, and a rake or a swath to rake it up into rows, and a baler to put it into bales and a stacker to stack the bales and put them under the barn or trailers for manual hay bucking or something else for round bales (but i think id do square ones) and a tractor to pull all the attachments on. right? what are these other things: field cultivator, hay invertor, hay conditioner. and whats the difference if a plow and disc?

finally, and im sure this varies by area but what is a good idea of how much it costs to buy hay if i dont farm it so i can feed my animals? (per bale, then i can figure total amounts on my own)

deadmoose- for chickens, if you dont buy pellets what do you feed them?

#9 deadmoose

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:27 PM

Buy feed but they eat grass and bugs and whatever else they find if allowed to roam. That makes for the best eggs.

Location affects a lot of your decisions. I started from scratch two years ago. The cattle are fun but pricey. You will really learn after doing. Then hindsight will let you know what you should have done.

#10 Nitram

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 05:56 PM

Depending on your finances. If you're going to buy the land have some one put up the hay and help them to learn how. Buying cows is expensive especially to learn on. There are good books but hands on will teach you more that's why I would say work for someone else to learn first dead livestock is nothing anyone wants to see and expensive. It is very rewarding if done well and catastrophe if not. Martin

#11 kyfred

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 06:40 PM

I might would see if anyone in your area would have any part time work you could do on their farm to see what goes on. Not to discourage you, I know a lot of it looks good but starting from square one before making much investment you might want to get your hands dirty first working for someone to see if you really want to get into farming. A lot of work and worry involved. I think life and working on a farm really teaches kids also responsibility and values of life. It helps them to realize that food just doesn't come from grocery stores. I think most kids miss out on the basics of life by having no clue as to where things come from. If where you live the schools have any ag programs FFA and 4H get them involved in that. What ever you decide Good Luck and don't expect to get rich quick or at all, but the experience for the kids could be priceless. kyfred
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#12 swmnhay

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 07:46 PM

smnhay- im not sure of the process so feel free to correct me but i need a discer to plow the field, then a drill to seed it, then a sprayer to fertilize and pesticide, and some sort of irrigation system (i'd be interested in different options for that) then a mower to cut the hay, and a rake or a swath to rake it up into rows, and a baler to put it into bales and a stacker to stack the bales and put them under the barn or trailers for manual hay bucking or something else for round bales (but i think id do square ones) and a tractor to pull all the attachments on. right? what are these other things: field cultivator, hay invertor, hay conditioner. and whats the difference if a plow and disc?


Probably be a good idea to find a local mentor or maybe someone to custom do some of it.Until you get more used to growing and making hay.

There are many different ways to work up the ground to seed it,and what works here may not work as well there.

What is in it now,maybe it is a good mixed grass that just needs to be cut,baled and fertilized?

Some of the things are not needed but are some tools many use to make hay dry faster or make baleage.
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#13 rjbaustian

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 09:03 PM

I would look for an older 50-60 hp tractor with a loader on it, an older hay cutter, maybe a late 80's or early 90's era one. An older square baler, probibly will cost a few grand, a few hay racks, an older hay rake, an older gravity wagon to hold the feed as well. I would hire a local farmer to work the ground up, and seed it down. You can do most of the rest from there. I think you could buy all the equiptment if you are willing to do repairs yourself for around 20-30,000. ALso, I agree with the investment of good fencing, and working for a farmer part time for a few years. On top of the learning, you could trade some of your hours, for using his equiptment to work the land till you can afford to buy your own.

#14 deadmoose

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 10:26 PM

There is also value in using cheap hay equipment. First the value can't go down further when you decide to upgrade. Second your equipment mistakes are cheaper. Third when you maintain and repair it you learn how it works.

For a newbie every repair is a learning opportunity. I learned tons with my old equipment. Now when I can upgrade I know what I want and need.

JMHO
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