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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I walked my new place with a guy who’s going to mow my pastures while we’re renting the place out. He said it was pretty decent grass and that he could bale it for me if I wanted. Cost would be $4 per bale (50 pound square bales). If I buy high-quality hay from Eastern Washington, I think I can get that for about $10 per pale if I buy it by the ton. Our soil lacks selenium and possibly other nutrients (I will get it tested at some point). One local has this word of advice: “Be aware that Kitsap / Mason County hay, unless amended, will often have a low nutritional value. This is because our wet climate washes value out of the soil. I am assured that local hay is very good for Nigerian Dwarf goats and alpacas.”

So, no doubt if I fed this hay I would need to increase mineral supplements. But it’s a lot cheaper than the other hay. Should I just have it baled one year and see how it goes? Or should I just get the high-quality stuff from elsewhere?
 

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If you bale the hay and it doesn't work for your horses, is there a resale for it? Could you then purchase better hay or will it be too late in the season to get that?

Will you have to purchase additional hay to make it through the winter regardless of whether you bale, or not? Are your horses picky on their hay? Will you horses do better if the hayfields are grazed in the fall rather than fed hay during that time?

If you could purchase better hay later in the season if needed, I'd be inclined to bale it, have it tested, and see how it works for your horses. If your horses are picky on hay or there's no market for it should you decide it's not what you want, get the good hay this season, fertilize your hay ground late this fall or next spring, and bale next year then test and feed. Also, verify the person offering to bale it has a good reputation or guarantees a quality product. There's no sense baling your fields if it is put up too wet to make good horse hay, gets rained on, etc.
 

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We spent $$$$$$$$ putting soil amendments on our leached W. Oregon soil. The results in terms of nutrition were dramatic. However all value was lost at harvest. The hay guy never got around to harvesting it until it was way beyond its prime. $4 a bale is highway robbery, unless he's going to pick it up and put it in the barn for you. We've gone back to buying C. Or hay, cut and baled at its prime, transported over the mountains, and delivered and stacked in our barn. It's almost a certainty you won't get the guy out when the hay is ready. They're still baling brown dead crap around here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If you bale the hay and it doesn't work for your horses, is there a resale for it? Could you then purchase better hay or will it be too late in the season to get that?

Will you have to purchase additional hay to make it through the winter regardless of whether you bale, or not? Are your horses picky on their hay? Will you horses do better if the hayfields are grazed in the fall rather than fed hay during that time?

If you could purchase better hay later in the season if needed, I'd be inclined to bale it, have it tested, and see how it works for your horses. If your horses are picky on hay or there's no market for it should you decide it's not what you want, get the good hay this season, fertilize your hay ground late this fall or next spring, and bale next year then test and feed. Also, verify the person offering to bale it has a good reputation or guarantees a quality product. There's no sense baling your fields if it is put up too wet to make good horse hay, gets rained on, etc.
Yes, I'd have to buy additional hay regardless. Teddy is picky, the other two aren't. July, August and early September are pretty dry here, so if the hay isn't baled, I'd just have to mow the pastures. I can't imagine they'd eat it after it had been sitting there dry for a couple of months.

I could purchase better hay later in the season, but then I'd probably be buying by the bale rather than the ton, so the price would be higher.

I do think I will try it and see how it goes. I didn't think about being able to sell it if the horses don't like it, so it's good to know I could probably recoup the cost, or most of it.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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So...instead of paying this guy to mow your pasture make it known you would like to contract with someone to hay the fields and do the improvements of enhancing the nutrients while they are utilizing the land...
If this guy is so hot to bale your fields in squares, then he is also probably got connections to sell that hay too...
Seems to me you could make some money with the right deal done...2 cuttings at least a year x how many acres of field?
If the guy turns tail and runs from the offer of him haying now instead of just mowing...your pasture might not be as good as you think.
However, he could be paying you per bale made = a nice sum of money, found money instead of you finding to pay him to mow it down.
Even $2.00 a bale when you figure a acre can yield... from 20 - 500 per acre in yield...that is some variable and $$ found. Enough to pay your mortgage/taxes if you cut 3 cuttings of 500 bales...
How many acres of pasture is your property?? :think:
Read these articles and rethink just mowing it down...
https://www.reference.com/science/many-square-bales-acre-ea1e0a13d439fa0a
Round bales per acre ??? - CattleToday.com
https://www.reference.com/math/many-bales-hay-can-harvested-per-acre-c984b249b907f9a0

:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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$160/ton for your own hay to be baled would be crazy high here.

That said, if you get and keep the hay it may still be useful even if you have to supplement for nutrition. But you mention having a horse that is picky. If you have other options, you may not want to force him to eat yours. Then let it sell as cow hay. It may work well in silage or other mix.

In years of really bad drought I've had to feed embarrassingly poor hay. It was still beneficial for the horses to have the forage for gut health. But I supplemented with lick tubs and cake. The horses did well. Neighbors joked about only feeding after dark because the hay was so poor.
 

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Our neighbors used to have a farmer bale their hay on property, and stopped because they weren't saving money. So it's hard to say.

If you do bale it, have it analyzed. I know I keep harping on that :) but it's really easy and cheap, and then you know exactly what's in it. True, they won't measure selenium usually, but you already know it's deficient.

You could always do one crop and decide whether it's worth it. Mix it in with the other stuff if you don't think it's great hay. Or sell it to someone who has goats.
 

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The only way I would pay him $4 to bale it is if he went 1\2’s on soil amendments. Making square bales is not for the faint of heart, especially in a wet climate. Would you have to pay for rained on hay? It can’t be left on the field...it has to be baled, even if it’s only fit for mulch.

How many acres is it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The acreage that could be baled is about four acres I'd guess. Maybe three. Definitely between three and four. I have more land than that, but I don't think the rest of it could be baled, for one reason or another.

Usually July and August is pretty dry, so that's when they bale around here. When I talked to him last week, he had just finished his baling for the year. He said the way my pastures look right now they would be good for baling. But yes, it can be hard to bale here sometimes because of the rain.

It's good to know that $4 a bale is considered expensive. But if I were otherwise going to be paying $10 a bale (for admittedly better hay) aren't I saving money at $4 a bale? I'd turn around and spread their manure in those pastures in the spring, so I shouldn't have to pay for too much soil amending, right?
 

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We've only ever had someone else bale ours for shares--- they get half, and we get half. If you have enough acreage, that can come out to your advantage--- free hay! But that's usually long-standing neighbors who either have a market for the hay, or have their own animals and are looking to trade labor for animal feed.



There are three acres out ahead of my parents' place that the neighbor cut and baled. He got about 140 bales/acre. They've got two cuttings off of it, and may get a third. When the harvest is done for the season, we'll take a trailer over and get our half from whatever they put up. He knows I have horses and he has primarily cattle, so he tends to set the better hay off to one side for us, especially if one cutting lay in the field a few days longer than it should have, or isn't as good for whatever reason.
 

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A freind of mine does her 8 acres of hay on shares. Works out good for her and farmer who does the haying. Usaully gets 2 cutting. They put up square bales.

No one around here test their hay. Some farmers do have hay tested. I tested hay one year haven't bothered testing it again. Horse's thrive on what we buy so good enough. Going to be getting late cut hay probably rained on also.

Do big rounds not many farmers around here want to mess with square bales.

If it ends up costing more then buying....you know not to bother with it next year.
 

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I'd turn around and spread their manure in those pastures in the spring, so I shouldn't have to pay for too much soil amending, right?
I don't think that will be enough to improve the soil. First, manure takes longer than that to compost properly. We let ours sit 3 years before spreading it. Secondly, you need to add more than horse manure. Usually you need to add lime to adjust the Ph at least. I'm not saying you shouldn't do it, just that you should expect very limited results from just spreading green manure.

Hubby put green manure in our garden one year and we had terrible crops. Low and behold, two years later, we have the nicest veggies ever! It just takes a while to properly decompose. So ideally, you make a pile each year, and by year 3, you have a new pile to pick from every year.
 

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I do a hay lease because none of my land is fit to grow and harvest hay on(much of it is timbered and or too steep). What that means is I contract a guy who manages other people's fields for 20 ton of hay per year. The price for the hay is dependent on quality so I pay between $110 and $130 a ton depending on which field I am contracting. I get to determine the type of hay, how it is sprayed, fertilized, baled etc. and the guy I contract does all the work. The field owner gets a share of that money and the field manager keeps all the rest. Even with that setup I am not paying $4 a bale. I do 60lb bales so I pay $3.30 - $3.90 per bale, if I did 50lb bales it would be $2.75 - $3.25 per bale. The guy offering to bale for you is WAY high and sounds like he might be kind of a scam artist at the rates he is quoting.


Nearly all hay in the northern US is selenium deficient. That is why they make selenium salt blocks.
 

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Having had(& still, despite winter) about the worst drought in NSW, so animals have literally been dying for the Victorian hay that all gets trucked up there... And it's been very dry down here too, been having to feed full time since mid spring last year!

I was used to paying $50/round bale, which would last my horses a few weeks when there was 'nothing' to eat on the ground(I now see that was relative, as they have REALLY had nothing on the ground till recently & it lasts only 3 horses(couldn't afford to feed the rest) UP TO 2 weeks max now). That's in a feed ring & with a slow feed net on it. Otherwise be gone(& lots trashed) in days. Last lot of hay I got last week was on the cheaper side at $150 a bale!! It's going for over $200 in some parts, $20/small squares.

So... regardless of how good bad or otherwise your hay, I'd bale all I could! If the seasons are like they've been this side of 'the pond' & they continue(which they likely will, with climate change), it's only going to keep getting more exxy to feed stock.
 

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You only have 3 horses...not enough manure to do any good on a hayfield. It costs me $600 to put only nitrogen on my hay patches...a total of about 20 acres. Any phosphorus or potassium triples the price. I don’t think 3 acres is worth worrying about. Buy hay, and use the land as pasture.
 

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You guys are just lucky to have grass in any form. Where I live I have to buy hay all year round. It must be pretty awesome to have so much grass you are worried about baling it.


Small 50lb bales here are currently running $11 a bale......and that's not from the feed store but someone selling it out of their trailer on Craigslist. We would be knocking each other down at $4 a bale. Such is life in Arizona. :|
 

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^Well this place was looking like I imagine Aridzona until a couple of months back. Now I guess you could call it a 'green drought'.

Ed to add; Ha! Only noticed the typo after I hit send. But it's appropriate so I'll leave it!
 

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I think location is important in your case. If I remember your property is in the upper Western part of the US. I live in NW IL and we had a horrible wet spring that put baling back a month. We then went into an extremely dry time and I had my second cutting off of 6 acres - and it was about 2/3 of what is should have been (maybe less) and we are not 100% sure we will get much of a third crop. I pay the guy that does my hay by the task (i.e I pay for mowing, tedding, raking and baling at different rates) it come out to about $1.50/bale and we do the baling (racking and unloading) If you are used to paying $10/bale I think $4 is great.

My thoughts are this. You should try it. You will never know unless you do - and the weather these last couple of years has been unpredictable and not our normal weather pattern. Having too much hay can never be bad. If those in the area are also baling now or just finishing it does not sound like this person is leading you astray.

Hay is one of those crops that is extremely different in each area it is baled. I would give it a shot and talk to him about adding Ag Lime or other amendments to the fields when baling is done. Lime helps balance the pH of the soil and will also cut down on weeds.

My vote is to bale
 
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