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Discussion Board - Free? Hay

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Jim SC

08-02-2012 15:16:50

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landowner a mile from us offered to give us 30 acres of hay for free for five years under the following conditions: We must use our own machinery (I believe he doesn't want some other bigger farmers on his land), we must use fertilizer (NOT turkey manure!) and we must cut it at least three times a year as his daughter and her family house is right in the center of this field. Hay is fescue and some bahaia and grass. Problem: We have no hay equipment. Question: Can we buy used equipment reasonable and make a profit over five years? We know its not an easy answer.

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08-13-2012 21:58:30

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
Yes you can make money! Hay is $6 and higher where I'm at.

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08-06-2012 04:37:41

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
3 cuttings can include bush hogging right? So maybe expect two cuttings and an end of season make it pretty bushhogging? You only live once so might as well try it. You can get modest equipment for cheap. If you have the tractors, loader and a trailer you're half way there. I bought a nice 8 wheel V-rake for $600 and they routinely go for $1000 around here (Indiana). An older Haybine can be had for $2000 in usable shape. An older baler can be had for a few thousand in decent working condition. I'm guessing that you have no problem with working on older equipment. Lets face it, you can put as much or little into hay as you want. You can fertilize fairly cheap and seed and then God makes it grow for several years.

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eldo case

08-04-2012 19:49:33

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
Would he let you cut fescue seed? Not bad money here this year for seed $.47 a pound. Then cut it for hay. Not too good quality but several cattle men around here feed it. Then you might get a second cutting in the fall if you get rain. Just a thought!

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Erik Ks farmer

08-03-2012 14:43:06

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
You stated that he wanted it mowed 3x annually? Here a fescue mix is a one time a year cut if you want a decent yield. Unless there is a good stand of clover then a second cut could be possible. Maybe you have a longer growing season, but 3 cuts on that grass sounds extreme.

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Jim SC

08-03-2012 09:12:14

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
Thanks for all the repies. We are part timers, with me retired, but we do have hay experience, except round balers. I know there is a low price for fescue/grass, and I know this gent just wants some one to take care of his property for his daughter, but it sure has perked our interest. We do row crops and have spreaders, tractors, etc, and would be interested in small/medium round bales only. There are several large cattle farms nearby and med round bales of similar hay go for only about $40 bucks, app. 850-1000 lbs. Thanks again. Gotta study this some more.

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08-03-2012 07:33:17

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
my opinion ,maybe, if you could find a steady market for the hay.But i doubt youll pay for new equipment. my advice would be to buy the very best baler you could ,thats the real money maker and the one youll have most problems with over if you could find a good swather,either drag type or self propelled you save money in the long run because you cut out some of the steps needed in making good hay. another way, i believe personally,might be to see if the gentleman would let you graze this off.sort of cut out the middle steps and put your inputs straight into beef.raise a few calves up to a size ready to put in a feed lot,and sell them in the fall.maybe put one in the freezer for yourself.thats always a money maker,or sweeten the deal with him by offering a half a beef for him and his daughter.properly done you can make thirty acres pay,but the rub is making the payments on your equipment.nothing is set in stone there you just sort of have to go on faith.

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08-02-2012 21:41:58

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
Boy, that's at that tipping point, need kinda good equipment to keep up with 30 acres 3x. You won't get by with the cast off old junk.

Not so many acres you are going to make a killing on it either tho.

Is there a good grass hay market in your location? (here you compete with road ditch hay, and hard to get a lot for grass hay...)

Would be nice if you had a little bit of experience, with a 5 acre plot for a ear or 2 to get your feet wet. You ever work with hay equipment, or will it all be new to you?


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08-02-2012 20:30:54

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
Research everything before you commit and figure cost and expenses against gains.

(1) Is there demand for Fescue hay on the local market, many people will not buy Fescue, is the market cow hay or horse hay. What does the mid summer heat do to fescue yields in your are. Is it a good clean field or need spraying.

(2) What package sells on the local market, big round, medium round, small round or square.

(3) Will people in your area pay extra for fertilized hay? Everybody wants fertilized hay but very few are willing to pay extra regardless of the benefits. Will the landowner allow overseeding of clover in the fall to increase yields and cut fertilizer.

(4) In the deep south you can almost guarantee that lime is needed in addition to fertilizer, to realize a good yield of grass hay will require a complete fertilizer in the spring and top dressing before second cutting, something like 250 pounds per acre of triple 19 in the spring and 100 pounds of urea later. If the land has not been limed in the past several years the fertilizer will only be roughly half as effective. If there is broomsedge growing in the fall and winter it needs lime, a soil test is best before you make a deal.

(5) Don't buy junk equipment, dont buy a 50 year old sicklebar mower and expect to cut 30 acres of high yielding hay if you have never set up and worked on a sicklebar mower before. You can do it without breaking the bank if you take your time and do the research, brand new 5' cut drum mowers cost around $3500.00 and can be used with a 30 H.P . tractor, it would cut 30 acres in 8 hours or less depending on the hay and ground speed. Decide what type of baler you will use and then choose a rake to fit the baler, you don't want a side delivery rake if you are using a 5X6 round baler and you don't need a 10 wheel V-rake for a small square baler.

The bottom line is this guy wants his land mowed for free, if you take the job on you will have to get something out of it. Based on my own area I would guess you could pay for roughly $12,000.00 worth of equipment, the fertilizer and make a profit or at least get some favorable tax advantages over 5 years. You will have drought years but you will also use less fertilizer in those years and hay prices will go up so it usually more or less works itself out.

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08-02-2012 17:31:46

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Jim SC, 08-02-2012 15:16:50  
Profit maybe.Getting the money back from investing in equipment should happen.



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08-03-2012 16:58:42

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 Re: Free? Hay in reply to Vito, 08-02-2012 17:31:46  

Hey, Jim, I'm in SC also.

Fescue, if cut at the proper stage and dried properly, will make a great first dutting of hay. Depending on the rainfall, you should be able to cut it about the second week in June. As to getting 3 profitable cuttings, that depends on the rain, but generally there are only 2 good cuttings, with the second one of lower quality hay. If you cut it 3 times the second 2 will be short. Having other grass mixed in complicates the picture. Bahia grass grows back quickly, but does not yield much hay. Common Bermuda will easily make 2, maybe 3 good cuttings. Johnson makes good hay if it is cut before it seeds out. I seem to remember opinions against Johnson grass for horses, but years ago someone told me that the US Cavalry used to like Johnson grass hay.

There are about as many opinions on horse hay as there are horse owners. Grazing fescue is not supposed to be good for pregnant mares, there seems to be some dispute about fescue hay and pregnant mares. I'm not a horse owner so I'm not ready to debate the issue. I'll sell hay, not opinions, especially when I don't have an informed opinion.


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