Very vague question there. Far as the best? Equipment that works is the best equipment that doesn't isn't. Best equipment to start out is paid off equipment. I run old stuff but I'm also very in tune with wrenching and knowing my machinery. Newer equipment breaks just the same as older equipment. What are you looking to do? Small square big squares rounds? How many acres? How much help you have?
It can be done.....but you need to be very mechanically inclined, have time and energy and knowledge of equipment, so you can sort the junk from decent and repairable pieces....the best stuff will be anything that works that you can find for the money
Pre-Budgeting will help such as
15k tractor...4k cutter...1k rake...8k baler...tedder?...bale handling and transport..etc
I don't know how we could realistically help you without knowing used equipment prices and availability in your area
Some times this time of year in our area you see adds for people selling their hay equipment as a package and getting out
My standard response to someone wanting to get into the hay business is to "take it slow". Nothing works out the way you drew it up on paper. It takes a while to learn how to make good hay. It takes a while to get your fields in shape. It takes a while to build a customer base. Often, the best course of action is to partner with someone who has the equipment and will harvest your hay on a percentage basis. In our area, the landowner will fertilize, lime and spray and the equipment owner will cut/rake/bale and take half of the hay as his payment. You are not going to make much, if any, money on this arrangement, but it allows you to test the waters, so to speak.
I searched around for good deals and was really patient, and assembled all of my current equipment for around $25,200. It's all in really nice shape (nothing super old and rusty), with nice paint still and is in good reliable working order.
Ford 4610 63 hp tractor with detachable loader: $8500 from dealership in Kansas
NH488 hay (immaculate, like new): $2500 from dealership in Illinois
Agco 4227 4 basket tedder: $4000 from local farmer
Miller Pro 900 9' rotary rake: $3000 from dealership in Virginia
NH 311 square baler: $3200 from local farmer
4 8x16 wagons with new decks and Deere running gears: ~$1000/each
I hay 40 acres but I'm cutting back for a bit; I work full time as well. It took me awhile to assemble all of this, looking constantly so I'd establish a baseline of what normal equipment is and exceptional, and likewise for pricing as well. My haybine, tractor, and rake were all bought sight unseen and they've been perfect; I've had all this equipment for some years now. I talked to the dealer to get their assessment of the equipment, you can tell if they have some hesitancy in their voice or not, and had them supply me with additional pictures in the case of the tractor. The key for me was to search nationally, not locally. At that time it was a lot cheaper to truck stuff though, and I had a guy that would truck stuff for me for about $1/mile so that was even better.
I just recently posted a video to a hay farming YouTube channel I have, about all the equipment needed to make hay for a small farmer.
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