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I'm new to farming and need some expert advice.

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Rayko

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This is an absolutely wonderful forum, and I've read over some of the great advice that you kind folks have given to others who have written in. I'm hoping that you can help me out by sharing some of your experience and expert advice.

I have retired from my "city life", and have always wanted to operate a Hay Farm. (Go Figure?) My wife and I bought a small farm (20Ac.) and have just had it planted in Jiggs by a "contract farm developer". (We are located in Texas just north of Houston.)

We are looking to purchase farm equipment... Tractor, mower, and baler, in order to be able to roll hay for next year. From most of the research that I've done to date, it appears that John Deere (albeit a bit more expensive) offers some very nice equipment that works well, have good parts supply and a good support system if something should go wrong.

I've noticed that at times, some forum contributors have purchased equipment for haying, and within a season or two, become dissatisfied with the equipment and replace it with a different model or brand. We are hoping to avoid this replacement problem and try and purchase suitable equipment only once....

We are considering a suitable JD tractor, mower/conditioner/windrower, and baler w/net wrapper, to accomplish the various tasks.

I'd truly appreciate your expert input. It is kind folks like you, who have actually used this equipment in the field, have experience with it, that are truly the best sources for giving us "hands on" information and expert advice.

Thanks so much for your help.

Best Regards

Rayko
 

Faster horses

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Sorry to rain on your parade, but 20 acres is hardly worth buying all that equipment for, unless it is just a passion you have and money is no object. :wink:

I would say call someone to put it up for you. No headaches or expense with machinery that way. Unless putting it up yourself is a passion with you and money is no object. :wink: :wink:
 

Cal

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For 20 acres, I'd just hire someone to do it, not really worth buying equipment for.

If you're going to do custom haying, or have too much money you need to get rid of, maybe I can help a little.

One of our balers is a JD 567 with mega-wide pickup and the net wrap option. The mega-wide also has an extra row of "fingers" that kicks the hay into the starter roller. It works beautifully and can pick up really large windrows at an amazing speed.

The JD 566 would be a good choice for a used baler, as would be the 535. The 566 is a newer model but the main difference between them is the electronic tie arms verses the hydraulic tie arms, which are actually run by a GM power steering pump, and more belt guides on the 566. Both work well and make real nice bales, and the belts are interchangeable, as well as most bearings are quite easy to change. If you buy a used baler, make sure the belts are okay and haven't worn thin, change the belt pins periodically. Also, take the tension off the belts by raising and locking the gate, and make sure all of the roller bearings turn smooth (check them by hand by spinning them).
Also make sure the pto shaft runs smooth, and that the u-joints and cv-joint between the front u-joints isn't worn. You can have well over $1,000 into replacing the pto shaft and more into repairing it. Check the belts out real good as well, they're around $360 for a new one through JD parts. Other than that, just check out the normal things; loose wheel bearings, cracks in the metal, excessive wear on any of the rollers, make sure the starter roller isn't bent, etc...

We use a Vermeer hyd. rake to rake 2 windrows together, saves running over so much ground with the balers.

We've had several New Holland speedrowers in the past, pretty good machines. Now, we're on our second JD rotary, 4995, excellent machine, can make very good time with it, but you need to have enough for it to do to justify the purchase. I'd suggest taking the power washer to any rotary head often enough to get it cleaned up before any mud on it gets really hard.

Also, especially if you're new at this, you'll probably want to get a probe to check the moisture of a bale when you start.

I hope you're retiring with some deep pockets, best of luck!

One more thought, I've yet to see a round baler with an accurate bale shape indicator. If you're putting up a narrow windrow, just weave a little and you'll be okay, ignore the indicator.
 
A

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Faster horses said:
Sorry to rain on your parade, but 20 acres is hardly worth buying all that equipment for, unless it is just a passion you have and money is no object. :wink:

I would say call someone to put it up for you. No headaches or expense with machinery that way. Unless putting it up yourself is a passion with you and money is no object. :wink: :wink:

I agree-- unless that is your passion- then go to a dealer and lease most of the equipment... Leasing could also give you some tax benefits.....
 

HAY MAKER

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Rayco,if you really want to do a lil farming ,you might wanna find some good used equipment,and consider square baling .Cater to the horse crowd...............good luck
 

Manitoba_Rancher

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If you were real smart you would just invest your money in more land. :wink: Land is usually a good investment because there is more being made!!! :wink: Anit a whole lot of money to be made farming or ranching these days. You can start with a big bank account and it soon goes dry. I would sure do some thinking before you jump head over heels into a bunch of machinery.
 

the_jersey_lilly_2000

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Yeap I agree with hay maker, I dont know exactly how far north of houston you are...I'm just out of huntsville a ways to the west. I'd say with 20 acres planted in jigs if you square baled it..cater to the horse people...(there's ton's of horse people around magnolia, tx) Also if you have your heart set on dealing with a John Deere Dealership the one in Navasota, Texas....is one of the best in Texas. Real friendly people and they sell used equipment as well, and will help you find what your looking for. Grimes County AG and Lawn/Coufal-Prater 936-825-6575
 

Mudhen

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I’m just a young pup on this forum and all, but I would say get your grandkids out and have some dairy steers out there and bottle feed them on it. :lol: :lol:

O you said haying; Hay Maker should know, he is the hay maker and all. :D
 

alabama

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Well 20 acres won't pay for your equipment. However you will need some equipment just to maintain your land so a 75 horse John deere tractor in good condition you will need anyway. Spend $18,000 or so on one in good shape with low hours (about 1200 hours.) You will need some type of cutter like say a 6 foot light duty pasture clipper to keep things cleaned up. Or if your place is rough around the edges get a rino TW72 model bushhog. To cut hay you will need a Hay cutter that you can get new for $5000 or used for $1500. Get used if you can work on it your self. if you can't rebuild it with a book then buy new. Some sort of rake whitch you can get used for $500 and a bailer that should run about $25,000 of used for $2000. You may be able to buy some used hay equipment from someone that is quiting the small hay business and get it cheep.
Number one: Get a good tractor. If it ain't yellow and green you don't want it.
Number two. rent the hay field or put up small square balis and sell to horse folks. hot and you will need a hay barn and a hay truch. more $$$

Number 3: Have a good time and buy more land. Or raise a few cows and sell the calves when finshed to people you know as packeged beef.

And most of all: Buy your hay.
 

Rayko

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I want to thank you all for the great advice.

Over the past year, I have spent considerable time going over the business economics of farming, and truly understand the basis for much of your advice. There is no question that my desire to hay such a small parcel of land has nothing to do with trying to "make a living off the land". For me, it really is more of passioin that I have had since I was a youngster in high-school (back in the stone-age), and it is only now that I have the time and finances to pursue it, just for the joy of it all.

I do appreciate your insightful advice regarding the financial "nature of farming". I couldn't agree more. For someone else in a slightly different situation, your candid advice would save them a great deal of financial heartache. Thank you for sharing that insightful wisdom.

Once again, this is a wonderful forum, and you kind folks have been just marvelous in sharing your knowledge and experiences. Thank you so much.

Best Regards

Rayko
 

alabama

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in that case. Head down the JD place and tell the man to set you up.
It must be nice.
 

TXTibbs

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HAY MAKER said:
Rayco,if you really want to do a lil farming ,you might wanna find some good used equipment,and consider square baling .Cater to the horse crowd...............good luck


Rayco....I'm just going to expand on what Hay maker said.

I agree that 20 acres isn't much land, but down there north of Houston where you are and the annual rain you get I bet you could get 6-10 cuttings a year off of it (maybe more, maybe less), and if you raise Coastal Bermuda grass for horses or something similar you'd make a decent amount of money. I know around here the Coastal hay sells for about $5-$6.50/little square bale. There is always a high demand for that type of good quality hay for the horse people, me included :wink: . I'd think around Houston all them people with 20 acres and a horse would be knocking on your door!

But I hope you and your wife have an outside source of income :lol: :wink: .

Good quality Coastal hay will always be in demand and is on the increase with more and more people owning horses. Good quality hay that hasn't been in the weather or rained numerous times and that has been put up right is especially hard to find in the winter months. Hay Maker would be more help if he wants to be I think, cause I think he does some of this himself for the "horse people", right Hay Maker?

Anyway, just my ramblings.....take care
 

Rayko

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Thanks again for all of the advice and consideration. It is really appreciated.

Best Regards and Good Luck to you all.

Rayko
 

the_jersey_lilly_2000

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we have a lil 4 1/2 acre hay field we usta square bale..got about 450 bales off of it the first cuttin then around 300 ever cuttin there after....usually total of 4 cuttins. so at $5.00 a bale that would be $6750
I'd think with 20 acres if it's good quality hay..you could easily pay for some good used equipment the first year. That's not including any fertilizing you'd do or expenses. But still..that's my figures on 4 1/2 acres and your looking at 20 so ruffly...if lucky $20,925.
But something you might want to concider is..alot of folks are willing to come out to the field and load it and haul it themselves. When we sold hay like that it was usually around 3.00 a bale.
 

Murgen

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Here's an idea, if you are doing it just to be on the land etc. Do it the old fashioned way, use some real old equipment, bring in tourists and make a day of it! Timing might be dicey, but maybe you have some town friends that could be on call for baling etc.

Might be used as a history lesson for folks from all around, educate them on how the business and equipment has changed!
 

Cal

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Rayko, glad you're doing something because it's always something you wanted to do. Everyone should keep in mind that some well maintained hay equipment isn't going to depreciate like the $100k hit you'd take on a new pusher motor home. Enjoy your new venture.
 

Rayko

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Once again, I want to thank you all for the great ideas, information, and advice. You folks have some wonderful ideas that we will seriously ponder as we proceed with developing our farm.

"Jersey-Lilly" Thank you for the production information that you are getting off your 4-1/2 acre hay farm. That was very interesting. I notice that you're in Texas like we are. I hope you don't mind if I ask you a few questions.

What kind of hay are you growing?

Do you have each cutting analyzed for protein content, etc.? And, do your customers typically want this information?

What size sq.bales are you putting up? (Dims and weight)

Do you typically sell-out the most recent cutting right away, or do you have to store it under-roof?

Have you discovered a way of handling large quantities of sq.bales economically and with less hand-labor?

I'm sorry to ask all of these dumb questions, but we are so new to this, that this kind of information is so very helpful.

One of our concerns regarding sq.bales has been the intensive labor involved in moving the sq.bales around, or staking them, and the need to provide immediate shelter from the weather.

Based on your production figures, it may be possible for us to generate as many as 2,000 sq.bales per cutting off of the 20+ acres that we have . The sheer numbers combined with the high labor input in handling sq.bales is a bit overwhelming to us.

Once again. your thoughtful and knowledgeable advice is well appreciated.

Best Regards,
Rayko
 

the_jersey_lilly_2000

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"Jersey-Lilly" Thank you for the production information that you are getting off your 4-1/2 acre hay farm. That was very interesting. I notice that you're in Texas like we are. I hope you don't mind if I ask you a few questions.

What kind of hay are you growing?
Coastal Bermuda with a little johnson grass mixed in. not by choice..just that it's there.

Do you have each cutting analyzed for protein content, etc.? And, do your customers typically want this information?
We don't sell our hay anymore since we feed all we can bale. I've had it analyzed a couple times usually comes out to about 15% protein. We fertilize with chicken litter in the fall from neighboring Sanderson farms chicken houses. Your protein content is so flexible depending on how much rain, what stage you cut, how long it lays drying, if there's a rain shower comes thru after cutting etc. (All a gamble) But I will tell you, you can have your hay analyzed for a very minimal fee if you take samples to your extention agent. Ours sends it to A&M for testing. think it cost like 6.00 (cheap cheap)

What size sq.bales are you putting up? (Dims and weight)
When we were sq baling, the bales weighed about 75 lbs. 2x2x4 ft or so, give or take. You can set balers to make shorter bales or longer bales. Now we round bale all our hay. Much easier to feed.

Do you typically sell-out the most recent cutting right away, or do you have to store it under-roof?
When we were selling some, we usually had folks that wanted it right then. They'd come out and load it on their trailer straight from the field. When not we loaded it as soon as it was baled n put it right into the barn ourselves.

Have you discovered a way of handling large quantities of sq.bales economically and with less hand-labor?
Haha the best way we found was to stop by our little mom n pop grocery and offer to pay someone to come help load.

I'm sorry to ask all of these dumb questions, but we are so new to this, that this kind of information is so very helpful.
Don't be sorry for asking questions. No question is a dumb question when your honestly trying to learn something. Only way to learn is to ask.

One of our concerns regarding sq.bales has been the intensive labor involved in moving the sq.bales around, or staking them, and the need to provide immediate shelter from the weather.
They do make a bale picker upper. Probably an expensive piece of equipment. But if you look long enuff and ask around at the tractor dealerships they might have something used.

Where are you located. I know you said north of houston. But heck, I'm about 70 miles north or so...we might be neighbors n not know it.
 

alabama

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the_jersey_lilly_2000 said:
"Jersey-Lilly" Thank you for the production information that you are getting off your 4-1/2 acre hay farm. That was very interesting. I notice that you're in Texas like we are. I hope you don't mind if I ask you a few questions.

What kind of hay are you growing?
Coastal Bermuda with a little johnson grass mixed in. not by choice..just that it's there. Outrider will get rid of johnsongrass and not hurt the brumuda but expensive. Roundup 48% will work ar 12 to 14 oz per acre but you will lose a cutting of brumuda. Both should be used on johnsongrass at 14 to24 inches tall and well before seadhead.

Do you have each cutting analyzed for protein content, etc.? And, do your customers typically want this information?
We don't sell our hay anymore since we feed all we can bale. I've had it analyzed a couple times usually comes out to about 15% protein. We fertilize with chicken litter in the fall from neighboring Sanderson farms chicken houses. Your protein content is so flexible depending on how much rain, what stage you cut, how long it lays drying, if there's a rain shower comes thru after cutting etc. (All a gamble) But I will tell you, you can have your hay analyzed for a very minimal fee if you take samples to your extention agent. Ours sends it to A&M for testing. think it cost like 6.00 (cheap cheap)


What size sq.bales are you putting up? (Dims and weight)
When we were sq baling, the bales weighed about 75 lbs. 2x2x4 ft or so, give or take. You can set balers to make shorter bales or longer bales. Now we round bale all our hay. Much easier to feed.

Do you typically sell-out the most recent cutting right away, or do you have to store it under-roof?
When we were selling some, we usually had folks that wanted it right then. They'd come out and load it on their trailer straight from the field. When not we loaded it as soon as it was baled n put it right into the barn ourselves.

Have you discovered a way of handling large quantities of sq.bales economically and with less hand-labor?
Haha the best way we found was to stop by our little mom n pop grocery and offer to pay someone to come help load.

I'm sorry to ask all of these dumb questions, but we are so new to this, that this kind of information is so very helpful.
Don't be sorry for asking questions. No question is a dumb question when your honestly trying to learn something. Only way to learn is to ask.

One of our concerns regarding sq.bales has been the intensive labor involved in moving the sq.bales around, or staking them, and the need to provide immediate shelter from the weather.
They do make a bale picker upper. Probably an expensive piece of equipment. But if you look long enuff and ask around at the tractor dealerships they might have something used. you can get a thing to go on the tractor to pick them up and stack them in your barn and youmight get a used one cheep

Where are you located. I know you said north of houston. But heck, I'm about 70 miles north or so...we might be neighbors n not know it.
Go with chickenlitter and you can use 3 tons to the acre every other year and then follow soiltest the next year. I think chicken litter will grow grass on a rock
 

the_jersey_lilly_2000

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Unless ya do like my father in law done and put "too much of a good thang" in the spring year before last n burnt our hay field to a crisp with it...then it took all the fall n winter rains for it to finally dilute enuff to do any good. One thang about it tho..it's not like other fertilizer if it lays there for months..it's still there..when the rain finally does come.

Alabama, did you put that part in about Outrider gittin rid of johnson grass...cuz I didnt type that part lol...
 

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