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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello im new to this forum and im seeking a little bit of advice.

I would like to get into the hay business and get a start at my own farm in a couple years. right now im a junior in high school and I really am wanting to make some decent money to eventually allow me to get a farm of my own and start a farm selling just hay. preferably alfalfa in large squares.

I was wondering if anyone has any advice for me as far as starting this type of business, I know all the equipment ill need and everything im just wondering if it is worth spending the money and time to buy some used equipment and start into this business? Any help and advice would be appreciated.

Some other questions

What would be a good rate to charge (per bale or per acre)?

Would it be a good idea to have a business partner?

Is anyone else from central Missouri (Lake of the Ozarks area) doing this kind of business?
 

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Have you determined that there is indeed a market for your planned operation? Custom operating of any sort in my humble opinion is dependent on having large farms in the area that don't want to or can't hire on additional seasonal labor. The other type of operator serves the gentleman farmer operation. You know the guys. They have a few horses or a couple beefers and tried making their own hay for a summer or two and now don't for a myriad of reasons. Are you concentrating just on the baling or going whole hog to custom harvest? If you can put up a quality bale of hay and in doing so preserve feed value you should be able to find a market. What type of baling do you intend to get into? Large square, small, round?
 

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It's all dependent on supply and demand. If there is enough of an opening in your area to get your foot in the door, you might make it profitable. HERE, custom work is beyond market saturated. That makes it harder to get work and drives the price down. It would only be worth it with large volume. The specifics of your operating area will dictate your path more than anything.
 

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That is very true. I pay far less to have someone do my big bales and wrapped baleage than I could buy and maintain equipment. My volume in those packages is just not enough to warrant it. $10 for the balege and $14 for 3x3.
 

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Building a potential customer base is important. Looking at competition is also important.

There is only going to be a certain amount of custom baling in an area. If there are already custom balers working your area then it might be hard to find work.

If you do have a few customers then they will usually want their hay cut at the same time, same weather window. Telling one customer that you are going to cut another field ahead of him is hard for most to accept.

I will never deter anyone from going into anything Ag. I will always advise them to take a hard look with both eyes open at the area they want to pursue.

I have a good friend who is now successful in the auto parts business. His first dream out of high school was to custom bale hay. He said dealing with farmers was a challenge for him, that there was more to making hay than it appeared from the road. He soon sold his equipment to someone else who wanted to give it a shot.

If there is any way you could work this next summer for a custom operation it would help to learn the ins and outs of the business and get paid to learn.

I would charge by the acre if I could. Thin yields do not pay when done by the bale.
 

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I'm a younger guy here too in my early 20's. Gotta have a demand for your product. Right now I still got a lot of small squares left to sell. One year you may sell all your hay quickly and for a good price. This past year in my area everyone had LOTS of hay. Right now the demand isn't very high due to the surplus of hay we had. Every year is different, two previous years we had drought and hay prices were very high.

I'm just a small scale guy here. Full time job and I put up hay and sell it on the side because I love to do it, and to hopefully make some extra money. I'm still acquiring equipment so everything I make goes right back into repairs and upgrading my stuff. I'd like to one day be a full-time farmer but It will take me awhile to get to that point.

If I were to do this full-time I wouldn't be depending on just one thing. I would be very versatile, Don't put everything into just that one business. Do a couple other things along with selling hay, that way if one has a bad year hopefully one of your other businesses does well.
 

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That is very true. I pay far less to have someone do my big bales and wrapped baleage than I could buy and maintain equipment. My volume in those packages is just not enough to warrant it. $10 for the balege and $14 for 3x3.
.

Just to further my point, you could get 4x5 rounds made here for $8 or less (usually $7.50) and 3x3s for $1.25 per foot. Half of the people here should quit or move somewhere else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As farm as i know there is no one else in this are that does this type of thing, but also almost everyone around here has their own equipment so that will make it hard to get started into i suppose. I just want a way to get my foot in the door so i an get my own farm someday and have a full scale alfalfa operation. I dont know if anyone has ever heard of Freeburg Hay in Gayville South Dakota but that is the type of operation id like to have one of these years. Some day ill be able to get that big but im thinking of this for a starter and to get me more prepared for going full scale and buying my own land.

another question, factoring in time, can someone better afford to own their own equipment and bale the hay theirself rather than pay someone to do it for say, 20-25 a 5x6 round or maybe even 25-30 for a 3x3 square bale

?

also looking for ballpark figures on how much it cost to produce 5x6 bale and a 3x3 square bale? i know there is a lot of variables but just looking for an average.
 

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.

Just to further my point, you could get 4x5 rounds made here for $8 or less (usually $7.50) and 3x3s for $1.25 per foot. Half of the people here should quit or move somewhere else.
HiTech- got tired of waiting for you and JD to come down here and roll my hay for $7.50 so I bought my own 457 ss. Think I can do it for less than 15$ which was last years price and I am rolling more this year than last.
 

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I was paying $10 just to have it rolled, 4x5's, with me cutting and raking. If I could have had it done when needed I would have never bought a round baler.

Back then I was only feeding 100 rolls a year.
 

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$100 an hour extra for twine or netwrap. Thats what i would do. We have a small time beef guy we bale for $9 for 4x5's with twine. Have to consider travel time also that means 100 per hour from the time the rig leaves the yard till the time it returns. That covers everything from fuel wear and tear and your wage. Could charge more. The way i look at it is i bust my a$$ to buy this equipment and keep it going for my own use plus i have to milk cows twice a day and have my own to do. Might as well make it pay or else sit at home i run a business not a charity organization. If they don't like it im sure there is a fool out there willing to do it at a loss
 

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Hay Master
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Cline nailed it. Rent some hay ground and bale it then sell it. Let some other sucker pay the mortgage. I dont know what your land price is like but here its 10k give or take a bit per acre. The only hay you will ever pay that off with gets smoked in a joint lol ;) make your money selling the hay off rented land then when land drops like its going to buy it when its cheaper. I think you already answered your own question when you said everybody has their own stuff. If you get offered jobs take them but dont count on x amount as a business plan. Welcome to haytalk :)
 

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Don't expect to open your custom hay business and have customers flock to you right away. It takes a long time to develop a clientele. People are creatures of habit and it will take a while to get them to come around.

Most farmers and land owners are extremely loyal also and if they currently have a custom baler who is anything better than a step up from bad, they will likely stay with them, even if you have a lower price.

Even if you hear farmers and land owners complain about their current custom baler, that doesn't mean they will throw their business your way if you start a custom hay business.

What you want to do can be done, and you could make good money at it, but it will take time, which you have a lot of! Good Luck and be patient!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks everyone for the help. Another question, if i was to get a farm and have it planted in alfalfa how would be best to move the product? Broker or advertise myself? I know brokers charge a fee of some sort but i cant find any in central missouri. I havent looked too terribly bad but ive just been scouring around. Any info about brokers will be appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What would be the best way to market or move my hay? I dont know if any of you have heard of Circle A angus ranch but they are headquartered in my hometown and i might see about selling them some because i know almost everyone that works there(very small town, less than 750 people) but most people around here wouldnt buy alfalfa cause they dont see the benefit in it so the ranch would probably be my highest demanding customer this close. so shipping alot it away would be my best option i believe so that would widen my market area and i know someone somewhere will buy good quality alfalfa.

What would be the best marketing tools to move some serious alfalfa and get maybe some contracts or very loyal buyers?
 

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If you don't have much of a local market what about starting with something with more of a local demand? Shipping is expensive. You could also then have different maturation dates so all doesn't need to be cut at once.
 
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