Hay & Forage Forum banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey All,

I’m new and considering getting into hay business as a side job. My work is fairly flexible so I think I could be in the field when necessary. I have access to a few hundred acres that are currently in row crop and we collect a %. I thought I may be able to justify purchase of used equipment and make more money in the long run if I grow/bale hay. The equipment is expensive and that’s not the surprise, but my biggest hesitation is getting a quality product established on row crop land. Sprigging Coastal or a similar product seems like a huge barrier to get into the business. I have a seed drill I could use but am unsure if any grass would be variable. Ideally I’d tackle the acreage in chunks over time. Maybe 30-50 acres a year as I learn the ropes and hopefully cash flow growth. Any ideas on what forage type to research first? And is small squares margin enough to justify a storage building or should I just to for rolls and sell less premium stuff?
Additional info:
Collin county TX
330 acres, no irrigation
Currently in corn but has been milo and soy
No structures on property.
current budget is unknown. I’m trying to geta sense on what is even viable if anything to cash flow it after a year or two.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,520 Posts
Welcome to HT
Do you have any experience growing/harvesting hay? Do you have any experience operating/repairing hay equipment? Trying to make a good profit growing/harvesting hay is difficult. I've been custom farming/hay baling in N central Texas since1987. The weather & high cost of equipment/parts & fertilizer will give one a ""real education""!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey TX Jim,

no applicable experience besides buying hauling and feeding hay. I’ve operated tractors but not for bailing. I’m sure there’s a steep learning curve, but we all have to learn something new at some point right!? I would just rather not lose my shirt doing it. Any advice on how to start. Small square seems easier to get the necessary equipment, but the startup costs for good grass and storage scare me. Alternatively rolls have big equipment costs but getting cow quality hay doesn’t seem too hard.

thanks for you time,
Drew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,263 Posts
It's hard to give such advice as situations differ. I can only advise you not to go too cheap on used equipment or else you'll spend more time fixing than baling and above all remember "Time is your enemy" well weather isn't your friend either, so the sooner you cut the sooner it cures, the sooner it is tedded or/and raked the sooner it's baled and in the barn or under cover. The other thing is to determine your market: Small Squares, Big Squares or Round bales and off the field or from the barn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your feedback Trillium. I’m sure North Texas is different market than Canada, but big rolls seems like a better fit for me personally. Any recommendations on transferring a row crop field into hay pasture?

thanks, Drew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
I can tell you don’t expect good return for a few years. With that amount of acreage it’s possible to make good money. If you want to buy equipment I’d invest into a new good tractor something in the 100-150hp range to be able to do everything with it from tillage to baling. Buy a good brand don’t buy some knock off junk. Most brands do the 0% 60 or 72months. Up in my area it’s alfalfa country so I can’t tell you much what will work but like previously stated get a soil test and be ready for lots of work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks all, I agree that coastal seems king around here on the business side. If I can cobble together the equipment and cover the sprigging costs I’ll try to keep everyone updated. Is it possible to cover the cost of sprigging by having it baled by a hired gun the first year or two? Purchase one piece of the puzzle at a time or did most of y’all jump right in or use equipment you had from other farm/ranch activities?

thanks, Drew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,263 Posts
Thanks all, I agree that coastal seems king around here on the business side. If I can cobble together the equipment and cover the sprigging costs I’ll try to keep everyone updated. Is it possible to cover the cost of sprigging by having it baled by a hired gun the first year or two? Purchase one piece of the puzzle at a time or did most of y’all jump right in or use equipment you had from other farm/ranch activities?
thanks, Drew
IMHO If you don't own all the equipment the enterprise will be still-born! Same if you have to sub-contract any part of the operation.
There are "Some" tool that can be quite old if still functional, Tractor, rake, tedder, cutter and conditioner, but the baler MUST be in excellent operating condition.
The older "tools" will not allow you to cut, condition, ted and rake as fast/efficiently as the new ones so your haying window will be even smaller and if you were the customer would you not go to someone that has all the newer tools thereby increasing the probability of making hay without being reined on.
If you are going into this business be prepared to spend some money, but you cannot to this with a shoestring budget, wait till you can get all your ducks in a row.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks Trillium, barriers to entry are high for sure... I may be better off planting something to attract dove and day lease to dove hunters around Dallas area. Seems easier at least. The family usually makes enough to pay taxes and bring homes a little cash but not much. I was brain storming ways to make more money off that amount of acreage. Seems like it could do better but startup costs make it tough.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,520 Posts
Trillium Farm
I guess my '05 rd baler with 27,500+ bales wouldn't qualify by your rules!!! I had to replace the pickup cam & brgs the other day but it was only out of commission for about 3 hrs then it was back in the hay field. BUT I don't rely on a dealer technician to repair my hay equipment because we repair it at my place.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,263 Posts
Trillium Farm
I guess my '05 rd baler with 27,500+ bales wouldn't qualify by your rules!!! I had to replace the pickup cam & brgs the other day but it was only out of commission for about 3 hrs then it was back in the hay field. BUT I don't rely on a dealer technician to repair my hay equipment because we repair it at my place.
Well Jim it could if it is running well;) and if the hay is for your own use it may not matter if it's rained on or not, but if one wants to sell it IMO it's a different story.
I as well as you have seen how much more efficient new tools are and with the weather window getting smaller every year that would make a difference.
I'm not advocating buying new, but at least "current" tools would make you life a lot easier.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,520 Posts
I bale mine plus a few neighbors hay. In my 30 plus yrs of custom baling I guarantee you having new/newer hay equipment won't keep unbaled hay from getting rained on if a shower pops up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Hello everyone, I'm new to this forum. Although i have been following it, and learning from it, ever since i started farming hay four years ago. The info and wisdom here has been invaluable. Thank You all for that!
I'm cutting hay on about 200 acres in Rains county Texas, which is directly south of Hunt county on hwy 69. It has been a challenge but also a lot of fun. I tried the old wore out equipment at first. But just when i needed it most it broke!!! So i went out and bought all new equipment, (I like orange kool aid) best thing i did for my farm and my sprit! I have had fun with it ever since. I'm not breaking any records on hay production, and the price on hay in this area is not the greatest. I rolled over 600 bales last year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,520 Posts
Welcome to HayTalk from a fellow Texan.
New equipment is great until it breaks & the payments continue.
I have to keep utilizing my '91 rd baling tractor, '05 rd baler, '02 hay rake & '04 disc cutter & '80 raking tractor. I do have a semi-modern '11 Kubota M7040 tractor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
I adhere to Dave Ramsey's ideas on payments. In the hay business that could be disastrous. (Army Worms) the list goes on and on. But, so far for me it's been a better return on my investment than CDs. I started with an old hay field that had been let go for 7 years or so. I seeded in Cheyenne ll instead of sprigging because I was afraid of drought. A bit slower approach! This year with fertilizer doubling, changed things up a lot. I am having folks call, wanting hay from deep east Tx and Amarillo.
I am willing to help anyone wanting to get started in the business. If any of you Tx guys want to get together over coffee, let me know.
Buck
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top