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  1. #21
    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

    Here is a pic of one of the fields, approx 3-4 acres inside of the tree lines. I was told that it was used for farming "Winter Wheat" back in the day, but I never verified that. The edges of the field have rock piles, so I'm assuming that they removed most of the rocks when they were farming it. All I really do with it now is Hunt. The other field is also 3 acres and is a mowed grass field - no brush & minimal weeds. Looks like fescue. We use it as a driving range now, but I can scale back on THAT.

    Can anyone tell me what type of plants (WEEDS) I have here now? This summer/fall, in bloom, was a mix of white, yellow, and purple flowers on top of the stalks. I mowed a path around it with my finish mower, and it looked like grass underneath.

    Also, if growing hay on this small of a scale wouldn't be worth it, is there any crop that would yield a better return? And, keep in mind, this is only for part-time (weekend) hobby farming. Anything that my tractor would handle any better, and/or, with cheaper equipment?

    -2013-01-15_16-37-18_46-a

    -2013-01-15_16-37-33_87-a

    -2013-01-15_16-38-21_863-a

    -2013-01-15_16-38-27_532-a
    Massey 1648 HST Cab - Hustler Z Diesel 66" mower
    2007 F450 Crew - 20' PJ Equipt Trailer
    QA 6ft bucket * 5ft Custom Grapple Bucket * QA Forks * 8ft Rhino Back Blade
    7ft Rhino Box Blade * 7ft LandPride Rake * 6.5ft KK HD Box Disc * Middle buster plow
    WorkSaver SG-26 Stump Grinder * Wallenstein BX42s Chipper * 8ft Ford Brush-Mower
    7.5ft QA Western snow plow

    370 hrs @ 12/14/14

  2. #22
    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

    Quote Originally Posted by zzvyb6 View Post
    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).
    Thanks for the info - I may have to drive over and check yours out... I'm over by Metamora. The equipment you listed here, did you use them with your 22hp Yanmar?
    Massey 1648 HST Cab - Hustler Z Diesel 66" mower
    2007 F450 Crew - 20' PJ Equipt Trailer
    QA 6ft bucket * 5ft Custom Grapple Bucket * QA Forks * 8ft Rhino Back Blade
    7ft Rhino Box Blade * 7ft LandPride Rake * 6.5ft KK HD Box Disc * Middle buster plow
    WorkSaver SG-26 Stump Grinder * Wallenstein BX42s Chipper * 8ft Ford Brush-Mower
    7.5ft QA Western snow plow

    370 hrs @ 12/14/14

  3. #23
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    Jun 2012
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    Mt Crawford Va
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    massey GC 2400 JD LA 145

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

    Check soil test and bush hog what is there for a year and broadcast red clover that works in your area. next year cut hay and bail where you can and bush hog what you can't, keep doing that for a while and you can learn cheaper than if you work it all up and plant alfalfa ect. there is a lot of good grass in there just have to get ahead of the weeds.

  4. #24
    Silver Member
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    Feb 2012
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    Location
    Brandenburg ky
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    2013 john deere 5075E and others

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

    I tend to agree with Ed, quality sells hay, with marketing. Look for a place that can test your hay for protein, TDN, etc. This way you can prove you are selling quality hay and compare it to competitors. If your barn is large enough separate the cuttings. First cuttings will generally yield more but of less quality than 2nd or 3rd cuttings. Also separate rained on, off color hay from the premium stuff. Different qualities different prices. Consider focusing your marketing on larger customers. Folks who can buy a whole cutting maybe even out of the field. Consider quantity discounts and minimums. (Just a few times of having to get up from the supper table to load 5 bales in a minivan and then wait till payday for the money gets old.) So here goes, (1) Produce quality hay, backed up by testing, that is common and in demand in your area. (2) Figure a profit margin that is exceptable to you then build a customer base. (3) Take care of your land. (4) Take care of your equipment. (5) Watch the weather

  5. #25
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    Sep 2009
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    Up State S.C.
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    AC WD 34 hp/3500 lbs MF 261 60 hp/5380 lbs

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

    Also, if growing hay on this small of a scale wouldn't be worth it, is there any crop that would yield a better return? And, keep in mind, this is only for part-time (weekend) hobby farming. Anything that my tractor would handle any better, and/or, with cheaper equipment.

    You might investigate truck farming or growing flowers for florist. I'm told that vegetable growers in some states have to be certified to sell to restaurants. I don't know about grocery stores or farmers markets. When I dabbled in it in the 80's most grocery stores in my area, would only accept produce from their central distributer and I think this required a contract with the chain.

  6. #26
    Super Member flusher's Avatar
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    Sacramento
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    Sold the farm, sold the tractors, moved back to the city

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

    Quote Originally Posted by edlegault View Post
    People are paying up to $20 for an 80# square bale for alfalfa out here in California. I know some parts of the country had a bad drought last year and some places have a hay shortage (shortage = high prices).

    How many cuttings per year does your area get? If you can irrigate you might get 2 or 3 (or 4) cuttings a year if the weather cooperates.
    Talked with my neighbor yesterday. She paid $14 for 3-twine bales (90-100 lb) of grass hay trucked down from Oregon (400 miles or so).

  7. #27
    Super Member flusher's Avatar
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    Sacramento
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    Sold the farm, sold the tractors, moved back to the city

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

    You could run a small baler like my Massey Ferguson 124 (two-twine squares) with your Kioto. People have run balers this size with smaller tractors like the Farmall Super A (see the video below--baler stuff is about 6 minutes into the video).

    FARMALL Super A - YouTube

    Or you could look for a similar baler that has it own gas engine so you don't need to run it via your tractor's PTO--you just tow it via the drawbar. This type of baler generally has a 20 hp Wisconsin engine.

    You'll need one or more discs (offset and tandem, 5-ft wide) for plowing, some type of drag (generally homemade such as chain like fence weighted with old tires/rims) and/or a cultipacker (8-10 ft wide), some way to plant seed (grain drill, broadcast seeder), a mower (probably a 6-ft sicklebar), a hay rake (5-bar side delivery rake, wheel rake) and in your area probably a tedder to flip the mown hay so it dries faster.

    I don't think you have enough PTO horsepower and 3pt hitch lift capacity for a disc or drum mower or for a mower conditioner.

    Good luck.

  8. #28
    Platinum Member
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    Mar 2008
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    Colorado
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    TN55

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

    I'm much further behind haying, but have been keeping it in mind as I buy equipment.
    Unfortunately, water is a high $ commodity (dryland and dry; no irrigation available in my area).

    But, talking to LOCAL TO ME folks that are haying, the best results are occasional plowing (with a 2~4 year period to establish a mature field). No idea on spraying, but I can't say that I have seen many spray rigs on hay land (fertilizer or weed).

    Your local soil conservation district (it may have been renamed as a natural resources district) and the (if invited by the soil conservation district) federal NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) will likely offer an almost single point resource on what you need to do for YOUR AREA. The NRCS is oriented towards larger producers but did come out and help survey my place (all 10 acres) for grazing. They can help out with ideas, and the soil conservation district may be able to help with a negotiated price on seed, plus might even have a seeder available (though your tractor will likely be too small). As mentioned, your local county Ag Extension Agent will have resources, as will the Michigan college/university ag extension office (part of a USDA program started a 100 years or so ago; each state has one as far as I know; they are the organization that hte county ag extension is part of). If you have a local ag co-op, they may also offer some help.

    From what I can tell, you might want to contract out the ground prep & seeding operation. You will not need to do it very often, and can spend money on things that you will use regularly. You can broadcast seed (3 point or atv mounted, push cart, whatever; 3 ph/atv will likely be easier to regulate seed distribution pattern) but the seed germination success rate will be much lower. The birds and mice will like it though! As near as I can tell, the economics of buying seed are offset by seed drilling & using less seed if you can get it done cheap enough (and then you know you have a good distribution of seed).

    The seed broadcaster can be a good way to spread pelletized fertilizer, so not a single use tool (might even be able to spread salt with it -- not sure). One thing about an older larger tractor: you don't need a loader or four wheel drive to bale hay. If you do, it's too wet. Lots of 'out of favor' old tractors out there that make a great 2nd tractor (versus a primary utility tractor). Chug-chug, simple mechanics have there place. Tough details (as noted above): watch for independent pto (if needed -- someone noted a bailer with its own engine), and your ability to work on it. Easy enough to research machines on the web (how most of us got here anyhow).

    Got me thinking about this for myself again. Will have to keep my eye out for equipment again. You could also start by getting the field up, then have someone local to bail it (seems the going rate is a 50% split of the results around here), then grow your equipment along with your knowledge and results (cutting, raking seem cheap enough), at some point doing it all yourself (and moving on to contracting out or leasing other fields).

    Cow hay is one price point (much lower, and depends on local ranching ebb-flow of the cattle biz), horse and hobby hay (fair, 4H, FFA, alpacas, etc) is another price (much higher, as my wallet shows). It's easy to attempt horse hay (which is very personal to the purchaser -- I didn't realize how many opinions there are until I got around horse people), and if it doesn't work out, sell it as cattle hay. Versus starting as cow hay. Plus, cow people want larger bales (preferably round).

    As already mentioned: ask your accountant. You might be able to pay for that new pickup after all, just from your haying losses (including the depreciation of your equipment). Oh, and you may be surprised at how much you can lower your property tax bill. That is a big $ reason I keep considering it; one of the ways to lower mine. Some places offer reduced registration fees as well (including your trailer). Watch your insurance though. You will want to be aware of any coverages that could change there (auto, property, etc).

    Interested in seeing how this works out.

  9. #29
    Platinum Member
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    Covington, GA
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    JD 870

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

    Hay is like some other crops. When it is time to harvest it is time to harvest. If the weather says 5 days of sunny then rain on the weekend then there is no haying on the weekend. You cut after the dew has burned off if the ground has had a few days of dry weather. Some hay needs to be conditioned/crimped to dry out fast. If it is left in the sun for a few days you have bleached out hay that small bale buyers turn their nose at. You have to fluff/tedder to help drying. Bale after the dew burns off a day or two later. Pick up before the dew gets all over it. OK, I only watch hay making, I have towed the rake, ridden as passenger while round baling, and picked up out of the field for my own use. That means I have never made hay myself from start to finish but it takes time over 2 or three days if the weather treats you well.

    If it was my field I would be mowing it regularly to get the weeds under control, spraying to get the weeds under control, and talking with the local AG agent to see what grows well and getting that soil test done. Our 8 acres of fields are for horses. Not enough fertilizer and lime on it for proper grass in my eyes but we have easy keeper horses that if I did what I wanted with fertilizer, aerator, and lime they would have founder problems. I have soil on my land that seems to grow nothing but on other parts I seem to have a foot of topsoil and things grow well there. The only thing I can say is I have the bitterweed and blackberries under control. Some of the other weeds are edible and some of the others take too much 2,4d to control and that is contrary to our minimal impact, bad to spray poison around the horses philosophy.

    I am not opposed to small hay operations. I keep looking at the 6 acres on property over from me that would make a good hay operation for me. I just cannot afford the property if it would sell and I do not want to consume my weekends making hay. Retirement is 20 years away so I just do not have the free time. Well I guess I could use vacation time to make hay if I had money to buy another 6 acres and the hay equipment.

  10. #30
    New Member
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    Jul 2012
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    Location
    pickton tx
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    kubota mx 5100

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

    You could run a small baler like my Massey Ferguson 124 (two-twine squares) with your Kioto. People have run balers this size with smaller tractors like the Farmall Super A (see the video below--baler stuff is about 6 minutes into the video).
    Small tractors like the farmall super A were built a lot more beffey than the compact "tractors" of today. Look at the pto drive line of a small tractor like that and it will be about as big as your finger - not so with any of the older tractors. I'm not saying you can't bale with a compact I'm just saying don't compare the old ones with the new ones.

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