Buying Hay vs. Growing Hay

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Devin

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Hello Everyone,
Have any of you calculated if it is more profitable to purchase your hay versus growing and harvesting it yourself? I currently put up my own hay and I only need about 300 rolls a year. It is beginning to seem like it would be cheaper to purchase the hay if I can find a reputable supplier. I'm sure alot of you work another job or two like me and it just seems like the time, breakdowns,weather etc sometime make it impractical to harvest. It seems like adding more cows on the current hay ground would more than offset the cost of the hay. Tell me what you think and the pro's and con's if you have done both. Thanks for any input.
Devin
 

C & C Land & Catt

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The problem is finding a reputable grower. You may get in a bind if we have a hay shortage and have to truck hay in. Expensive. Also it is nice knowing hay is qaulity with no weeds. We bought some hay in 98 and ended up with a bunch of weeds we had to spray to kill. We knew it was weedy but it was all that we could find. As for cattle on the hay meadows I would not do it. If a hay meadow produces about 1 ton per acre @ 50 dollars a ton once a year (bluestem) it has made a pretty decent profit. Our bermuda meadows kick out 2 tons an acre twice a year @ 60 dollars a ton. Cost alot to fertilize but we still make good money. I would just pencil whip the figures and see which fits your operation best and go with that.
 
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Anonymous

I’m not sure it’s more profitable, but, for us anyway, it’s about the same. We used to put up our own hay, in small square bales, and get the extra we need by putting up other peoples on shares. Every year there was either some major break down, or we were upgrading to slightly less antique equipment. I kept saying it would be the same to just buy what we needed, as to pay for the repair/purchase bills. About 5-6 years ago husband got sick and I called a guy in with a mid-sized baler (1000 - 1500lb square bales) to put it up. Now he gets ours all roundbaled and buys the rest. :D Oh, and yes we both work full time too. Don’t know how anyone can afford not to have a job in this economy.
 

hillbilly

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Devin,
What state do you live in??
How much does hay cost in your area??
What size bales do you make??[300 rolls]
I think you are right at the break over point as far as number of bales.
At $15 to 18 per bale you would be spending 4500 to 5400 per year to buy your hay.
That would make a pretty good machinery payment [good used mach.]

We bought equiptment when our usage reached 200 bales, that was a little early. Cost us more to make hay than to buy.
Now it saves us quite a bit to bale our own.
I am one sick puppy! I like makin hay! I take vacation to make hay! [I know, I'm sick right?]
As far as running more cattle on your hayfield, you would be supprised how few extra you could carry. Its not the spring abundance that determins what we can carry, its the tough months that show what our land can handle.
You could buy extra feeders at greenup and sell at browndown but I've not had any luck with that.
Good Luck

Hillbilly
 

Campground Cattle

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It would be cheaper for me to buy, all the people in my area quit custom baling. So to avoid the hassle I bail enough for me and sale the rest in the winter. I come in close to break even on what I sale.
 

jt

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Campground Cattle":1rscxnma said:
It would be cheaper for me to buy, all the people in my area quit custom baling. So to avoid the hassle I bail enough for me and sale the rest in the winter. I come in close to break even on what I sale.

i put a pencil to the idea a while back.. couldnt see where it would pay off for me.. and couldnt see where there would be much, if any, money in selling the stuff...

the only senerio that seemed that might work, and i really doubt it, would be custom baling.. you bale, they pay, you leave, they handle the hay because it is theirs. and it seems that if this would work, it would be because you were able to find some GOOD equipment at a reasonable price, and you would have to do a fair amount in volume..

on the other side... people are baling hay everyday.. if it didnt work, they would get out, so i must not have figured out the right way of going about it ??? :roll:

jmo

jt
 

Cattle Rack Rancher

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I think that unless you had access to a bunch of cheap, fertile, land that anybody who works full time would have a hard time justifying spending the money on equipment and the time to do their own baling. Maybe, I'm lucky, I've got a hay farmer about 2 miles from my place. Even in the years when there's a drought, I'm paying about $40.00 CDN per bale for top quality alfalfa and about $25.00 CDN for brome/alfalfa mix delivered and placed in my yard. It is way less risky to buy hay, then trying to schedule holiday time and hoping it doesn't rain when I want to make hay. If a guy was farming full time and doing some custom baling on the side, then maybe it would pay for the equipment. If you enjoy it, though, then you might consider it a hobby and you probably don't need to justify your time.
 

Craig-TX

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Hay (straw) used to be a byproduct for the most part. These days it's evolved into a cash crop for some beef producers, a pure expense for others and a sub-contracted activity for most. The costs of land, equipment, fuel and fertilizer have brought raising hay to the point where it has a lot more to do with farming than it does with ranching, at least from the economy of scale perspective. In some operations there comes a point where it is just about a break-even proposition to not even put up any hay – raised or bought – and just cut back on the grazing burden. In areas with consistent snow cover during the winter it’s not a viable option. But in the south and southwest, simply reducing headcount and grazing year-round can make sense in some cases. There are probably a dozen factors to consider, not the least of which is time – how much you have, what it’s worth, and the ROI when you spend it making hay. Just something to think about.

Craig-TX
 

Running Arrow Bill

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Unless your hay baling is your "day job" (or a retirement job), you're probably money and effort ahead to buy your hay, stacked in your barn.

Assuming you get a good stand of "hay" in the first place, there is weed control, fertilizing, (blister bug control if you're in the horse hay market). Then, you're dealing with Mother Nature. Hay must be cut at the right time and windrowed, turned over in the windrows, and when the moisture content is about right, bale it. Then you have to get it out of the field. Weather plays a HUGE factor in hay baling. A shower at the wrong time can ruin the hay, delay it, etc., after it's cut. One of our area hay suppliers frequently has to bale his hay in the wee hours of the morning (before sunup) so the alfalfa doesn't shatter leaves. It hay sets too long and humidity is up or it rains on it in the field, then mold happens fast and it can be worthless for feeding to horses, and even pregnant cows.

Hay is not an easy way to the Bank!
 

WORANCH

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for most it is best to buy







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Devin

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Thanks for the input. To answer Hillbilly's question, I live in western KY and I bale about 300 1500lb bales/year. I enjoy it but it is so time consuming with two other jobs and a family. You all have made some good points that I hadn't thought about. I appreciate the posts.
Devin
 

txag

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Running Arrow Bill":3j8aoboa said:
Assuming you get a good stand of "hay" in the first place, there is weed control, fertilizing, (blister bug control if you're in the horse hay market). Then, you're dealing with Mother Nature. Hay must be cut at the right time and windrowed, turned over in the windrows, and when the moisture content is about right, bale it. Then you have to get it out of the field. Weather plays a HUGE factor in hay baling. A shower at the wrong time can ruin the hay, delay it, etc., after it's cut. One of our area hay suppliers frequently has to bale his hay in the wee hours of the morning (before sunup) so the alfalfa doesn't shatter leaves. It hay sets too long and humidity is up or it rains on it in the field, then mold happens fast and it can be worthless for feeding to horses, and even pregnant cows.

Hay is not an easy way to the Bank!

bill's reasons to buy hay are pretty much our reasons to make our own (vs hiring a custom baler). because we don't have someone coming in our fields bringing in who-knows-what kind of weeds & seeds, we are able to control the weeds much more effectively. we can get in & cut & bale as soon as the forecast is positive for hay-making & don't have to wait in line for a custom baler to work us in their schedule. we make more than enough for ourselves & sell the extra for extra income. what we don't sell in the summer when everyone else is making hay, we put in the barn (both round & square) & sell in the winter at higher prices.
 
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Anonymous

jt":3l90wra6 said:
Campground Cattle":3l90wra6 said:
It would be cheaper for me to buy, all the people in my area quit custom baling. So to avoid the hassle I bail enough for me and sale the rest in the winter. I come in close to break even on what I sale.

i put a pencil to the idea a while back.. couldnt see where it would pay off for me.. and couldnt see where there would be much, if any, money in selling the stuff...

the only senerio that seemed that might work, and i really doubt it, would be custom baling.. you bale, they pay, you leave, they handle the hay because it is theirs. and it seems that if this would work, it would be because you were able to find some GOOD equipment at a reasonable price, and you would have to do a fair amount in volume..

you are right people bale every day i know a guy who does just this last yeaar he rolled about 1500rolls of weeds endrophyte infested fescue and any thing that would roll. taht might not be ironic what is ironic is the idiots who buy his hay

if one can they should produce their own.


on the other side... people are baling hay everyday.. if it didnt work, they would get out, so i must not have figured out the right way of going about it ??? :roll:

jmo

jt
 

Ellie May

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Howdy,
For us it is to grow hay, but we have to tend to sell what we don't use. And rolls don't cost much around here only $10 out of barn or $15 in barn.
Ellie may
 

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