Still no hay

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farmerjan
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Re: Still no hay

Postby farmerjan » Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:13 am

Boondocks: how many cows do you run, how much land is grazing and how much is in hay fields? How much hay do you normally use? Since there is a "hay guy"and he obviously has a big clientele that he did not get to you, maybe there is room for another "hay guy" in your area. Are there any other farmers right close to you in the same boat, waiting on this guy? And I understand that there is only so much one can cut down and then reasonably expect to get back up in a certain time period so not trying to put him in a bad light.....but..... maybe one or two of you can get together and find some used equipment that you can share and help each other to get your own plots made up.
That's how we started many years ago, got some really old equipment, and made ours and the next door neighbors, then as we got better at it, and more people called us, got better equipment. Yes, we have alot of equipment, and a fair amount of debt right now, but at least we can get our stuff done when we need it pretty much. Every farmer around here has their own equipment if they have more than 20 cows or 15 or more acres of hay to do, because there just aren't enough hours for a custom guy to get to all the small places. We just had someone beg us to do their field first cutting for all the hay and are willing to pay us to make their second cutting. We finally agreed even though we don't really want to or have the time to do it. And although we have a window for the next 3 days, it will be next week at the earliest before we get to it because there are other things on the agenda this week. We lost 1 30 + acre place of just hay making, and don't miss it or the time to haul all the equipment there; and are rotating the cows on another 20 plus acres that I just bush hogged as high as I could, to get at the thistles and weeds before they could go to seed, to not have to make the hay there. Have two more fields that will get bush hogged sometime and will not get cows put on them until dec because we don't need the hay and weather hasn't been good enough to allow us to do it right.
Since there has been so much rain there it probably will be hard to find the hay, but if you can rotate the cows I think that I would do it on some and hope that he can get you a combination 1st, 2nd, 3rd cutting off some of your hay fields. It won't be as terrible as it seems. We often have a combination 1st & 2nd cutting off a few fields when the weather doesn't cooperate and the cows seem to eat most of it just fine when the weather is cold. You are feeding beef cattle not high producing dairy cattle, and besides cattle are designed BY NATURE to produce on ROUGHAGE. They will take hay and other roughage and make the most of it.
Sure I believe in trying to provide good decent feed and hay; but there are times when we maybe try a little too hard and should let the animal do a little more of "rustling their own grub" and making do with what they get. Also, we had some 3 year old stuff that was not made right, and when it got put in some gullys & low spots and on some rocky areas to just get them to break it down, they ate it up like candy. Some was rye, some was some really crappy slimy looking sorghum/sudan that we just had to get made and off the field and it never got wrapped. They devoured it. So, don't sweat the hay and hope the guy can get to it when he can. There will be more bulk, and the cows will eat alot more than you think. You may have to supplement some protein; grain or some tubs or something, but they will do okay.
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Re: Still no hay

Postby dun » Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:50 am

The equipment sharing deal works out well with hay equipment, particularly mowers rakes and tedders. Balers not so much Neighbor and I share a tedder but we each have a mower rake and a baler. That should be HAD since I sold all my hay equipment last month. Those are the least expensive pieces and the tedder was something that only was used occasionally The main thing we shared was time and manpower. I would usually rake for him as he baled and vice versa. The only caveat would be to insure the other guy feels the same way about equipment as you do. It sucks if one person isn;t reliable and when it comes time to use a piece of equipment and he broke it and didn;t fix it. Even now that I'm out of the haying I still rake or tedd for him and he helps me with stuff around here since he's so much younger, he's only 70 so he can do alot more than I can anymore.
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Re: Still no hay

Postby Workinonit Farm » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:13 am

M-5 wrote:In your situation why not buy all your hay and increase stick rate by grazing hay fields


This is the route that I/we took about 14 years ago. It made more sense, and penciled out. Plus there is some value to the reduced stress surrounding the issue of hay.
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Re: Still no hay

Postby boondocks » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:31 pm

Workinonit Farm wrote:
M-5 wrote:In your situation why not buy all your hay and increase stick rate by grazing hay fields


This is the route that I/we took about 14 years ago. It made more sense, and penciled out. Plus there is some value to the reduced stress surrounding the issue of hay.


We have (in a crazy moment) thought about that. The barriers are high though: the hay fields are on the top end of the property and have neither water nor fencing. Also, the fact that we have to feed hay for 6 months/yr in this challenging northern environment makes it cost-prohibitive (esp at current beef prices) to buy all of it. (We do buy some round bales and baleage).
In terms of working with other farmers, we have talked to everyone and followed every lead for the past 3 years, trying to get a better solution (whether a different hay guy, shared equipment, shared labor, etc). The old guys have too much work already, and the youngsters are all leaving for greener pastures. Even this guy that we let take 2/3 in return for cutting it says he can't do it anymore after this year, he has too many fields.
No great solutions, unfortunately. Just have to decide which is the "least bad" choice. (Farming 101, eh?)
Dun, wish you lived near--would have bought your haying equipment (then asked you how to use it ;-)
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Re: Still no hay

Postby True Grit Farms » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:54 pm

Dang the luck, it's hard to give advice when you don't know the person or operation. If you have a tractor you need buy a old sickle bar mower, a cheap rake and old round baler. Making hay is enjoyable to me...when nothing breaks.
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Re: Still no hay

Postby M-5 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:11 pm

boondocks how many bales are we talking to get you thru a normal winter ??
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skyhightree1
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Re: Still no hay

Postby skyhightree1 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:45 pm

True Grit Farms wrote:Dang the luck, it's hard to give advice when you don't know the person or operation. If you have a tractor you need buy a old sickle bar mower, a cheap rake and old round baler. Making hay is enjoyable to me...when nothing breaks.


That's the truth if I ever heard it. I also agree on buying your own equip. I buy sickle mowers in great shape from 25.00 to 150 here all day long regular side delivery rakes 500.00 if in really good shape or the 3pt 4-5 wheel rakes couple hundred bucks can get get a krone baler old but functional 2500 here
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Re: Still no hay

Postby skyhightree1 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:49 pm

Boondocks I would also suggest trying to get alternative feeds that are cheaper
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Re: Still no hay

Postby bja105 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:31 pm

I had a tractor. I bought my mower for $500, my rake for $250, and my round baler for $800. I have made 43 round bales in the last three weeks, the first we have weather for it.

Like someone above, neighbors ask me to make hay on their land, and take it all, free. I wish I had more time.

It sure has been stressful, watching my grass get over mature and constant rain. More stressful is working full time and trying to make hay. This is killing me. I have one more month of days long enough to dry hay, and barely half of the hay I think I need.
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Re: Still no hay

Postby chevytaHOE5674 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:00 pm

Having your own equipment isn't all sunshine and rose. When you buy a baler for $800 you have to expect to be working on stuff more often than you get to use it. Sometimes you will get lucky and it will work other times you'll have nice hay on thee ground and it will break down and your hay will get rained on for a week straight. Then if you have limited time and very limited weather windows you will struggle to get it done in a timely manner with an old sickle mower, rake, baler.

If you enjoy tinkering and working on equipment and have the time then making hay can be fun with things go right.
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Re: Still no hay

Postby boondocks » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:53 pm

I have zero mechanical skills. As in, anything I look at breaks. Spouse is mechanical but works a 12hr/day job off-farm. (I have an off-farm job too but not as many hrs).
In answer to M-5's question, we feed about a round bale (or equivalent squares) a day. Sometimes in the shoulder season when they still have a bit of grass we can stretch it to every other day. But winters are long here; earliest we can turn them out is late May, and it's been early June some years. Some years we have snow in October (at least a dusting) and generally by November they're transitioning to hay.
We got an inquiry from a "solar farm" company a year ago to lease some of our big, top-side hay fields. We laughed and pitched it. Now we found out that one of our farmer-neighbors is considering it. Maybe he's the smart one...
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Re: Still no hay

Postby cowgirl8 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 6:14 am

Workinonit Farm wrote:
M-5 wrote:In your situation why not buy all your hay and increase stick rate by grazing hay fields


This is the route that I/we took about 14 years ago. It made more sense, and penciled out. Plus there is some value to the reduced stress surrounding the issue of hay.

Seems most people are turning to buying their hay. We bale all our hay, but now we bale just about everyone elses out here. We custom bale, but a lot of the land we get our own hay from is free. Not only are people no longer doing the work themselves for their hay storage, but people are buying land that have no plan to graze, they just want the place to be pretty when they come out to camp on it. So, we now have free hay fields. Its crazy.
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Re: Still no hay

Postby ddd75 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 6:25 am

i'd look into selling the cattle and buying sheep.
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Re: Still no hay

Postby boondocks » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:13 pm

ddd75 wrote:i'd look into selling the cattle and buying sheep.

What the h3!! would I do with sheep? Get into fiber arts? Eat mutton? I'm too old to start over with a different critter. I'm just beginning to speak cattle-ese a little bit. :lol:
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Re: Still no hay

Postby cowgirl8 » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:54 am

boondocks wrote:
ddd75 wrote:i'd look into selling the cattle and buying sheep.

What the h3!! would I do with sheep? Get into fiber arts? Eat mutton? I'm too old to start over with a different critter. I'm just beginning to speak cattle-ese a little bit. :lol:

Theres a guy out here that bought into goats. He had a large herd of them at one point. Problem with them was, everything else likes to eat them. He gave up and now just has a herd of nonbreeders to keep the poison ivy down. Cows are much easier..
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