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Author Topic: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please  (Read 5690 times)

simone

  • Joined Oct 2012
Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« on: May 07, 2013, 09:02:28 pm »
We moved into our 4.5 acre smallholding in Essex last October - the previous owners just used the main part say 4 acres for hay - and that's our plan for this year whilst we renovate the house and come up with a smallholding plan :-)

Hay - the previous owners told us that they would do nothing to the land for hay at all (no fertiliser) and once a year leave the gate open and someone would come and remove said hay and a cheque would follow.

On talking to our neighbours it seems this isn't the case at all.

So.. can anyone explain a bit about hay-making, the practicalities of selling it - how much it costs to have it cut etc etc

So far we've been offered a few lambs by another neighbour in exchange for taking it away but Im not sure that's our best bet! (i have no idea if he meant alive or sunday dinner either)

thanks very much for any tipes in advance :-)

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 11:09:41 pm »
You'll need someone to come and cut/bale it unless you have your own kit. I imagine the cost of making small bales on that acreage would be pretty expensive unless you can get the guy next door to do it and say, give him half as payment.


If you keep taking hay year after year with no inputs then the quality will drop off pretty rapidly. Ideally, you will have someone graze it off in winter then harrow/roll in the spring.

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2013, 07:13:14 am »
I would do the half and half arrangement. Or else agree a set amount of money for the ability of someone to come in and do all the work and bale it up. Selling it will be tricky as you cant allow it to be rained on unless there is somewhere under cover to store it.
To do the whole process yourself would require you to be free for 3-4 days at no notice to get in when  the weather is right, a hay mower, tedder and rower, and a baler, plus a tractor to pull it. Its too large an area to do by hand.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2013, 08:36:21 am »
If your neighbour meant s/he'd get the hay made and take it away in exchange for a couple of freezer-ready lambs, I'd say that's a very fair offer.

Otherwise, ask around local horsey people where they buy their small-bale hay.  Find that farmer and ask him/her if they'd like to take a crop of your field  ;)

You should get close on 400 bales off 4 acres, that's worth his/her time to work, provided you aren't too far away.

Did your vendors indicate how large a cheque you should expect?

We calculate it would cost us 2 to 2.50 a bale to make small bale hay if we charged for our time, equipment and consumables (fuel, string) like contractors would.  Then depending on how far away the farm is, there's travelling time and fuel too - and hay needs to be cut, worked several times, baled, and transported home - so that's a lot of journeys.

Hence I wouldn't expect a huge cheque - which is why I'd say a couple of freezer-ready lambs is a fair offer. ;)

I'd also ask your neighbour if he'd like to put a few sheep on it once the grass comes back to put some fertiliser back in the ground - as Steve says, if you continually crop but never feed, the crop will get weaker and weaker as time goes on.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

OhLaLa

  • Joined Sep 2010
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2013, 08:56:56 am »
Unless you already have all the machinery needed to make hay, you are looking at someone else to come and do it for you. Keep half and give half is the usual arrangement when someone comes to hay make, but you could ask around and get a price for someone to come in and do it so you can keep it all. But it won't be cheap. If you don't have anywhere to store hay, then keeping any of it isn't an option anyway. But if you do, look at the local ads in your area and see how much hay is selling for and price up inlay/outlay according to how many (minimum) bales you might get.
 
BUT before you arrange anything, take a close look at the field and see what is growing in there. You may have Ragwort which is very poisonous to horses and will need to be dealt with asap.
 
With regard to the lamb offer, if you keep stock you will need to register to do so, but it sounds like you haven't got the time to attend to stock just yet, so ask the farmer if he meant lamb for the freezer, which might actually be the better option for you right now.
 
 :farmer:
 

si-mate

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Kent
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2013, 09:10:43 am »
It if was a nice, flat, good shaped field growing good grass very near to my land I would think a couple of freezer ready lambs (300) would be a good offer.
I'm afraid I wouldn't consider it for half the bales, particularly with grass that hasn't been grazed and had any fertiliser put on it. The risks are just too high with hay.

To be honest around here most land owners are pleased just to have someone make hay to keep the field tidy.

simone

  • Joined Oct 2012
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2013, 09:42:59 pm »
Thanks for the words of wisdom.

Think we'll call the guy that the previous owner used to find out more.  I think last year the rate was 1.50 per bale to be cut and baled - but - we don't have anywhere to store it to sell it ourselves.  So either him or take payment in lamb form - although OH is looking for an excuse to buy an antique baler.

We have no ragwort but possibly a few weeds in one corner, the last owner used to do all of the weeding by hand and im thinking about keeping that up rather than spraying chemicals - is that crazy?


SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2013, 10:19:48 pm »
We have no ragwort but possibly a few weeds in one corner, the last owner used to do all of the weeding by hand and im thinking about keeping that up rather than spraying chemicals - is that crazy?


Its not crazy if you pull all the ragwort by hand before it sets seed.

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2013, 10:22:35 pm »
Thanks for the words of wisdom.

Think we'll call the guy that the previous owner used to find out more.  I think last year the rate was 1.50 per bale to be cut and baled - but - we don't have anywhere to store it to sell it ourselves.  So either him or take payment in lamb form - although OH is looking for an excuse to buy an antique baler.

We have no ragwort but possibly a few weeds in one corner, the last owner used to do all of the weeding by hand and im thinking about keeping that up rather than spraying chemicals - is that crazy?


It's not mad at all provided there is no ragwort at all and if any it is pulled before making hay (selling it with ragwort in it is a trading standards offence) , it would be good for horses or sheep as they much prefer meadow hay with lots of species than seeded cropped hay of uniform ryegrass which is less palatable and also bad for them as it is too high energy.








Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2013, 10:53:30 pm »
Thanks for the words of wisdom.

Think we'll call the guy that the previous owner used to find out more.  I think last year the rate was 1.50 per bale to be cut and baled - but - we don't have anywhere to store it to sell it ourselves.  So either him or take payment in lamb form - although OH is looking for an excuse to buy an antique baler.

We have no ragwort but possibly a few weeds in one corner, the last owner used to do all of the weeding by hand and im thinking about keeping that up rather than spraying chemicals - is that crazy?

Remember that ancient balers have had decades of abuse, with no maintenance.  They inevitably break just as you start to bale, with rain clouds building on the horizon  ::)   We do have an ancient baler, but my OH tends it meticulously and replaces any damaged parts.  It's the most amazing piece of machinery and quite lethal if you go too close when it's running.
You would also need a disc mower, a tedder, a trailer and a shed.    So something for the future certainly, but it's a good idea to get someone else to do it for the first year or two while you learn just what's required.
 
We certainly hand-pull our pasture weeds - except creeping thistle which doesn't pull but does respond to frequent mowing - we use our lawn mower in thistly patches so we can collect up the spiny bits which otherwise get caught in fleece.   We have got rid of all ragwort, although some seeds always float in each year, but it's an annual battle against spear thistles - we're getting there but more slowly. Other 'weeds' are in fact herbs which make lovely, varied hay.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

si-mate

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Kent
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2013, 01:06:27 pm »
Thanks for the words of wisdom.

Think we'll call the guy that the previous owner used to find out more.  I think last year the rate was 1.50 per bale to be cut and baled - but - we don't have anywhere to store it to sell it ourselves.  So either him or take payment in lamb form - although OH is looking for an excuse to buy an antique baler.

We have no ragwort but possibly a few weeds in one corner, the last owner used to do all of the weeding by hand and im thinking about keeping that up rather than spraying chemicals - is that crazy?


Nothing wrong whatsoever with an antique baler, but! your OH will need to be very mechanically minded and enjoy tinkering with things. If you understand how they work and give them a thoroughly good going over every year they will do the job just as well (but a lot slower) than a modern baler.

anthonyr

  • Joined May 2013
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2013, 11:35:04 am »
 I have a 5 acre field just south of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk which is to be sold for grazing horses or possibly sheep.  Meanwhile, I intend to leave the grass for hay.  I do not have facilities to do this myself and would therefore need to have someone who needs the hay himself to do the cutting & bailing.  Could somebody please tell me what the going rate would be for cutting, bailing and taking away, i.e. the farmer to keep the hay. 
Thanks,
Tony 

si-mate

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Kent
Re: Hay-making for novices - In need of advice please
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2013, 09:53:10 am »
I have a 5 acre field just south of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk which is to be sold for grazing horses or possibly sheep.  Meanwhile, I intend to leave the grass for hay.  I do not have facilities to do this myself and would therefore need to have someone who needs the hay himself to do the cutting & bailing.  Could somebody please tell me what the going rate would be for cutting, bailing and taking away, i.e. the farmer to keep the hay. 
Thanks,
Tony


In all honesty probably nothing.


If it is a good bit of weed free grass and the field is a good shape with easy access then it might be worth a couple of hundred quid to someone nearby.


But it is better to have the grass baled and removed at no cost to you than having to pay someone to come in and top it.

 

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