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Custom Haying????

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Well-known member
Jul 19, 2010
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Is there any money in custom haying if a guy only put up 1500 bales that weigh 1500 pounds, and what type of cutter, tractors, and balers would you use. Also what kind of twine would you use, sisel, plastic, or net wrap. Also the bales would be about 1000 grass alfalfa, and 500 hay barley bales.
I custom hayed back in 1994 -97. I ran 3 double bar Kosh mowers, a 30 foot and a 42 foot Rowse dump rake, plus a Case IH 8465 round baler. The first couple years weren't too bad. I could find help, and had good hay to put up. The last year I had little to no help, a lot of either swamp ground, or upland hill ground to hay, and still ended up with nearly 4200, 1300 pound bales for the year.
The first year I custom baled at all was in 1983, and I got $7/bale. Made 1500 pound bales. In 1997, I was getting $6/bale, and they wanted me to make 1800 pound bales. The cost sure never went down either.
If you have the equipment, and a neighbor like Soapweed, who pays his custom hayers well, and gives them the better hay ground, it will work. BUT if you go out and buy the equipment, travel long distances, and don't get the quality ground, NO it won't work.
Sounds like you have a neighbor or a job lined to do 1500 bales??? If you have the iron, go for it! 1500 bales doesn't sound like too much hay to me. I wouldn't head to the bank and get a loan to buy a windrower for 1200 tons of hay. Custom work has pluses and minuses. I have done alot it. It always fun to go the neighbors. See lot of scenery. In the right situation you can make a ton of money. That always helps and is the draw for people doing it. The downsides are; It gets old fast. Very cut throat business. I am amazed daily, at what people will work for. I tell my wife I would rather go broke sitting at home than wearing out my machinery on someone elses' place.
there is money in it, but you gotta look REAL hard to see it. if you have any interest at all in shipping the hay, net wrap is the only way to go....well, a 3x4 square baler would be the best bet, but net wrap is very important!
Found out when i was doing custom haying that there is usually a reason they are not doing it themselves. They usually put there worst ground to to hay ground and let the custom guy worry about it. If the situation is right and there money is good it can be a good way to start out on your own or for extra income if you have the equipment. But when you budget for repairs, it will be alot when your on foreign ground all the time.
I do alot of custom work. I bought used equipment to start out and up graded as I got more jobs. I still only run 30 and 40 series id tractors but my bakers are pretty new since there the business end of the deal. Its hard to make very much money swathing. If you charge what you should alot of people complain but they aren't buying a weather and replacing guards and sickles. Baling is where I make the most money. If you get 10 acres an hour your doing good. And @ 15 bucks that's only 150 an hour. On good fields I kickout a minimum of 40 bales an hour @ 12 bucks that's 480 an hour. Net wrap is the only way to go if you can afford a baker with it. Just the time it saves you makes up for the difference in cost. And you don't need brand new equipment to get it done new stuff brakes down too. I run a deers round baker and love it but I think the new vermeer is also good. I had a Heston before this and the deere will run circles aronud it and I baled beside a new holland and I kicked out almost double the bales.
I came home form the Corp in 1971 and started custom baling in 1972 - - - 14T JD square baler and a 510 JD round baler - - - charged $8.00 a bale for round bales back then and made money.

With in 10 years everybody and their brother had a baler and the prices kept falling and I quit custom work.

A neighbor does custom round bales now and charges $13.00 for 1,500# bales left in the field. But he does not get much business except for the hobby farmers that have a 5 acre field.

In this area thee would not be much money made as the wok is not there.

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