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  1. #11
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by TSO View Post
    As for the equipment - and more specifically the hay rake, from watching different videos, it doesn't appear that it takes a ton of HP to rake the hay into rows. Can I handle a 7-ft rake, or do I need to look for something smaller? How about the mower, which kind should I get for my needs?
    We rake with a B7500 (16 PTO HP). It has adequate power to run our 18' 4 basket tedder as long as you dont try to go at warp speed. We also use the B7500 to run the side delivery rake (NH 56 or 256) when merging rows ahead of the baler.

    Aaron Z
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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  2. #12
    Super Member radioman's Avatar
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    Ontario, NY
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    while growing up -- my folks has an area for hay making and alfalfa was grown. We used to ask various farmers to come in and cut the hay and bale it for themselves for free in exchange for keeping "it mowed down" . They still ask farmers to cut it , but if they dont get to it, my father just bush hogs it down. noting that the OP is from Michigan - I doubt you will get more then 2 cuttings unless you have a good rain summer and get 3 cuttings out of the field. I don't think the problem is cutting and baling it with your small tractor with the right equipment, its finding the market for it and sell before it goes bad. where are you planning to store it? outside under tarp -- farmers might just pass on it. if it was in a barn maybe. What if you have a good year of hay without irrigation? other farmers will have exact same situation as you so they wont have a need to buy. Are you planning on selling small bales for farm shows/fairs agriculture or big bales for farmers who need hay when they are out/low?

  3. #13
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    pickton tx
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    kubota mx 5100

    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Baling puts a lot of strain on your tractor... but I dont think it would matter much with only 6 acres. As for raking I know boys that pull a side delivery with a four wheeler, so I really dont think it would be a problem. For a cutter I would get a 5' of 7' sicle mower beacause for one thing a disc mower requiers rear outlets and they are pretty heavy for a little tractor like that one you have. Also finding a market for your amount of hay will be somthing alltogether different. I can rember when I got into the hay business I did not even think about what it would be like having to sell it. Let me tell you that the people who want small amounts will often want it deliverd so you will need a truck and tralier - not just for delivery but also for getting it out of the field and into a barn.

  4. #14
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    massey GC 2400 JD LA 145

    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    The key to making money with hay is quality, and that comes from planting the right crop for your area, fertilizing at the right time and amount, including lime if needed, cutting it at just the right time, curing it well, not to much or to little, bailing at just the right time and getting it in the barn without any rain getting on it, and finding a sale for it. If any one of these is not done well and at the right time $$$ are lost and even the best will never get it right all of the time. That said yes it can be done and it can be fun, with a small amount of land like that. Get an older NH baler and don't try to hook a wagon to the back, NH seem to be more used ones around for parts, get a cycle bar mower, and an old crimper, it takes another trip over the field but with your tractor imo it would work better, get a trailer style rake, and a truck or trailer that you can use in the field and for delivery. It will take a while to just pay off your equipment but remember this is fun and after about 4 or 5 years if you learn well and are lucky you should start making a few $$ for your labor. Not near what you can make at a part time job but if you are doing it for the joy of it that wont matter if you are doing it for the $$$ only work at McDonalds you will make more per hr.

  5. #15
    Veteran Member TSO's Avatar
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    SouthEast Michigan
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    Massey 1648 HST Cab

    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Thanks guys... this is exactly the info & input I needed! I'll try to address the comments & questions:

    Quote Originally Posted by scrappy isb67 View Post
    I have pulled a JD side delivery(basket) rake with a 982 Cub Cadet garden tractor, your tractor will pull it just fine.
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by stuckmotor View Post
    My favorite story about hay production was told to me by a man who was into and out of the cattle business in just a few years. He said hay, was the only business he knew of, where the grower, the bailer and the buyer all lost money. He might have been wrong but, I like to tell that story.
    I sure hope that's just a "story" and not true!

    Quote Originally Posted by Soggy Bottom Outdoors View Post
    First take a soil sample of your field to determine nutrient(fertilizer) needs and pH levels.It will be your largest short term expense and directly effect yields. This can be done with a shovel and clean bucket. If you have a county extension office they may test the sample for $5-10 but it takes a few weeks. Alfalfa is a good choice unless your ground is wet natured(slow to dry) Alfalfa itself is harder to dry than grass, so you need more time or different equipment. But it is high yielding when managed properly. We can get 5 or more cuttings in KY annually without irrigation. Without knowing a lot about your operation I would suggest a mixture of alfalfa, timothy, orchardgrass, lespedesa, a little endophtye free fescue, and a little bluegrass and no clover if you plan on squares to the horse market. Again, just my suggestion. Equipment wise look for a Case/IH 1300 or similiar belt drive 7ft sickle bar mower(it's a start), then a New Holland 256 side delivery rake, a used tedder would be good. We had a MF 120 square baler that might....maybe work for you. Try some locals to see if they would custom bale for you. Very important. Do your best to read the weather, you'll probably need at least four days to cut, tedder, rake, bale, and pick this hay up. Off colored hay will not bring the premium you need. I'll check back in with you after school.
    Excellent post - thanks! I'll look into all of that. Also, how long does hay "keep" in the barn? Just the one season?

    Quote Originally Posted by radioman View Post
    where are you planning to store it? outside under tarp -- farmers might just pass on it. if it was in a barn maybe. What if you have a good year of hay without irrigation? other farmers will have exact same situation as you so they wont have a need to buy. Are you planning on selling small bales for farm shows/fairs agriculture or big bales for farmers who need hay when they are out/low?
    I've got a good sized barn for the storage, depending on how much I'm actually able to grow. As for where to sell it, I think 1 out of 4 homes in my area have horses, 1 in 20 have chickens (myself included)... and there are small cattle/dairy operations around me as well. People here like to buy & sell locally, so I'm hoping that selling it wouldn't be that much of a problem. But good point, I didn't really consider NOT being able to sell it!

    Quote Originally Posted by aczlan View Post
    We rake with a B7500 (16 PTO HP). It has adequate power to run our 18' 4 basket tedder as long as you dont try to go at warp speed. We also use the B7500 to run the side delivery rake (NH 56 or 256) when merging rows ahead of the baler. Aaron Z
    Thanks for that... I'll look around for it. What do you bale it with?

    Quote Originally Posted by ejm15 View Post
    Baling puts a lot of strain on your tractor... but I dont think it would matter much with only 6 acres. As for raking I know boys that pull a side delivery with a four wheeler, so I really dont think it would be a problem. For a cutter I would get a 5' of 7' sicle mower ... Let me tell you that the people who want small amounts will often want it deliverd so you will need a truck and tralier - not just for delivery but also for getting it out of the field and into a barn.
    Thanks for that... Also, I have a truck & a 16 foot cargo trailer good for 7000 lbs. That should be handle the job, I'm hoping at least!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed of all trades View Post
    The key to making money with hay is quality, and that comes from planting the right crop for your area, fertilizing at the right time and amount, including lime if needed, cutting it at just the right time, curing it well, not to much or to little, bailing at just the right time and getting it in the barn without any rain getting on it, and finding a sale for it. If any one of these is not done well and at the right time $$$ are lost and even the best will never get it right all of the time. That said yes it can be done and it can be fun, with a small amount of land like that. Get an older NH baler and don't try to hook a wagon to the back, NH seem to be more used ones around for parts, get a cycle bar mower, and an old crimper, it takes another trip over the field but with your tractor imo it would work better, get a trailer style rake, and a truck or trailer that you can use in the field and for delivery. It will take a while to just pay off your equipment but remember this is fun and after about 4 or 5 years if you learn well and are lucky you should start making a few $$ for your labor. Not near what you can make at a part time job but if you are doing it for the joy of it that wont matter if you are doing it for the $$$ only work at McDonalds you will make more per hr.
    Thanks - and yes, knowing that it "may" only make a few extra bucks, my main reason is that I would enjoy doing it, and it can hopefully pay for my equipment here, and something to pass along to my kids. Eventually, I wouldn't mind trying to grow other crops too - there's decent amounts of vacant farm land around here.
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  6. #16
    Super Star Member
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by TSO View Post
    Excellent post - thanks! I'll look into all of that. Also, how long does hay "keep" in the barn? Just the one season?
    It will keep indefinitely, however, it loses nutrients as it ages, so older has is worth less.

    Quote Originally Posted by TSO View Post
    Thanks for that... I'll look around for it. What do you bale it with?
    We bale with our L3830 and a NH 269 that has a kicker on it (looks like this one: http://www.tractorhouse.com/listings...x?OHID=6965157 ). We run a wagon behind it (8x16 wagons with 8-9' high sides)

    Aaron Z
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
    Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

  7. #17
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    JD LA115, WH 244, WH 525 hydro-pops,Original Troy Built Horse 8 HP

    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by TSO View Post
    Okay, first off... don't laugh at my little 23 HP compact tractor! She's done everything I've asked her to so far... but that is mostly related to Loader work and digging holes with the bucket & auger. Just kidding... I know she ain't a big farm rig.

    Anyhow, we have up to 6 acres available to grow hay on. I figured I could make some extra money if I put it to use, so I'd like to get started this spring. I know NOTHING, and I mean nothing, about farming, so I'm a complete rookie when it comes to this... although I'm pretty capable, so if I get some advice I may be able to make it work!

    I've been reading up on the type of grass to plant, how & when to harvest it, etc. My concerns though are the equipment. Pretty much everything I find for sale (used) around my area are for REAL (full size) tractors. I've seen the mini-baler's online, but those go for around $13k new, and that's quite a bit to spend for a hobby hay farm. If I can avoid it, I don't want to buy another tractor just for the hay work...

    SO...

    Considering the size of my operation, and the size of my tractor (about 20 PTO HP) can any of you recommend which equipment might work for me? What type & size of mower, rake, and baler would be best for me? Or, should I just find a $2500 old big tractor to do the work?

    Also, the land is mostly flat. A couple small rises, but nothing crazy.

    Thanks in advance! Any other advice or recommendations is welcomed too!


    You have two problems, lack of adequate land and time
    waiting for a good crop of feedstuffs.

    The only way you are going to make money
    after several years is to plant Sainfoin Seed
    for livestock and not alfalfa as this type of
    fodder is a faster growing more prolific fodder
    by volume and itis not affected by weather extremes.

    Ideally you want a rototiller for your mule and a small
    hydraulic powered rock picker to remove the rocks you
    will till up. The tiller will give you a seedbed in one pass
    after the rocks are picked out you can hire someone with
    sure seed grass drill to plant the sain foin with a bit of
    fertiliser. The SainFoin crop also chokes out weeds too
    which is something alfalfa is not capable of.

    Unless you can get rid of most all the rocks down to the
    hardpan layer all is lost as the roots of the seed will be
    fighting to become established.


    The only way you will manage this is with a mini baler
    attachment for two wheel tractor with the least amount
    of cost. please examine the Two Wheel Tractor section of
    the TBN home page for haying and contact Jason at Earth Tools about haying equipment for two wheel tractors.


    Dont expect your fodder crop to last unless you spray it with a preservative and wrap it with a white plastic bale wrapper-you can purchase mini bale wrappers as well from Jason and others.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    I'm doin' the same thing with a tiny 1-1/2 acre no money in it just something to do. I all excited about getting a Drum Mower, now. I just can't locate a used one in my locale, though. In fact the local "Vendors" have never heard of such a mower, that makes me want one even more. Anyone out there got a used drum mower for sale in Pacific Northwest? bjr

  9. #19
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    john deere

    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    Find yourself a nice JD 4020 and baler to match . You can mow and rake with yourlittle tractor. But you will want alittle girth when you start baling . Sounds like you want tokeep the young ones involved , which is what it's all about . Put them boys on the rack wagon and let them work . Equipment is expensive , but the comaraderie is priceless . My O2 .

  10. #20
    Elite Member zzvyb6's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking to start growing & harvesting Hay - with a Compact Tractor. Advice please

    I've been doing everything you are planning on for quite a while. I have a NH 479 9' mower, a NH 55 rake, and a JD 14T baler. I pick it up with a NH 1012 stack wagon. When I started out, I was using a 22 hp Yanmar 4wd tractor (and without and independent pto drive).

    If you start out with some cheap used equipment you will have a lot of fun, learn how the equipment works, repair and update it and teach others about it. I'm surprized we haven't seen all the ex-spurts who swear you need all this new, powerful, heavy, and expensive eqipment to get a haying job done. Just ain't so. I learned by being stuck with a small tractor, equipment that I could borrow, and time to play around with it. But, my current 35 hp JD tractor handles the machinery the same as a JD 4430 that I also have borrowed. It uses 10 times the fuels, though.

    You may also find out that your neighbors have fields they will pay you to cut and bale for their animals. It depends on how much time and effort you want to put into it. Get an accountant to advise you on taxable deductions, equipment depreciation, and farming schedules.
    Its all gravy after a few years.

    I'm in Brighton if you want to see it all for yourself. With the current cost of hay to horse people, everybody and his uncle is out looking for haying equipment to buy because they want to jump onto the profit bandwagon. If spring is early, rainfall will be low and hay production will be low again, meaning prices will remain high. I can't wait for all the "my baler won't tie", or "I broke both of them there needle thingies", or "where do I find sizzle hay string", or "my wife put gas into my diesel tractor", or "my sickil mower gets plugged while using it to rim the hedges", or maybe even a "can I pick up a 2000 lb round bale with my 16 hp lawn mower" questions.
    There is no "I" in team, but there is a "Me" if you want to jumble it up a bit...

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