A lot of people who want to shift to earning money through farming want to know if starting a hay farm is viable. The main question that they have in mind is how much hay per acre they can expect to get. Producing hay is actually ideal for first time or minor farmers as it requires less capital.
Some farmers would also opt to grow hay instead of other cash crops simply because when done properly, it can help them get a steady income and learn more about how life in the farm works. It is also ideal for those who own farms in areas where there is a big demand for hay.
What Is Hay?
Hay is basically grass but it can also be herbaceous plants or legumes that need to be cut, dried and stored as fodder for livestock. Although it can be fed to small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, it is the primary food for horses, cattle, sheep and goats. In rare occasions, it can also be given to pigs.
Hay is very important simply because a lot of animals are grazed in the fields so that they can be fed. But when the pasture is not enough or when the animals cannot graze because of the weather, hay is the only thing that can help them survive. Hay is also used as animal fodder when the pasture is too rich.
This product is also very important when there is a drought or when animals have to be kept inside the barn. Hay can provide 100% of the animal’s fodder needs. It can be composed of different grasses such as ryegrass, timothy, Bermuda grass, orchard grass and legumes like alfalfa and clover.
You can also cut green oats, wheat and barley so you can dry them and turn them into hay. With that said, different farms with different soil conditions can easily make hay simply because they have many options to choose from. The usefulness and the diversity of how to make it is what makes hay unique.
How Many Bales Of Hay Can Be Harvested Per Acre?
The amount of hay that you can get will actually depend on where your farm is located and also on what you are using to make the hay. Most farms, in Oregon for example, will be able to get anywhere between 62-165 bales of hay per acre. However, in Florida, they only get as much as 60-80 bales of hay per acre.
Factors Influence The Quantity Of Hay An Acre Can Produce
- The type of herbage that you plant in your farm
- The age of the plant when you harvested them
- The method you use for the fertilization of the herbage
- And the hay quality and bale weight
Of course, you should also consider the quality of the soil in your farm, how you care for them and also how good the weather is. The farmer should also know when to cut the hay. Depending on the herbage you are growing, you should consider cutting them early or when the seed heads are not yet ripe.
These factors can also directly affect the yield. For example, if the farmer has favorable soil and weather conditions, and if he cuts it when the leaf is at its maximum, he can expect a great harvest. Low productivity hay pastures can produce 65 bales, while high productivity fields can produce 165 bales.
A Closer Look At The Yield
When it comes to hay farming, the farmer does not actually have to spend a lot of money to start and maintain it. In most cases, the farmer will have to spend the bulk of his capital in order to purchase different equipment such as a baler, a tractor, a mower and a bale wagon for around $52,000.
You will also have to spend money for seeds, but because hay does not have to be planted every year, you will be able to save a lot of money from not having to buy additional equipment and more seeds. You can then get money depending on how good the harvest is and how good is the quality of your hay.
For example, a small square bale of hay would sell at least $4.50 per piece especially if it is made from good hay. The price however, can also fluctuate depending on whether you are going to deliver it yourself or have it picked up by your clients. You can also ask for a higher price is supplies are scarce.
Hay is a very important commodity for farmers and ranchers who focus on raising livestock so that they can produce a wide array of products. Hay can be made from a wide array of herbages, and it is mainly used to feed animals in case they cannot be grazed, or when the pasture is not ideal for them.
The amount of hay that an acre can produce will depend on many factors. But in general, low quality farms can produce less than a hundred bales of hay per acre, but high quality farms with the right herbage, soil and weather conditions can easily produce more than 100 bales of hay per acre.
Hay farming is a great option for new farmers, or for those who are not yet ready to try cash crops that require a lot of time and attention. Since it will only demand a little capital to get things started, and because you do not have to plant it every year, it can easily provide a steady flow of income.
How much hay does an acre of your farm yield? Share your harvest results or your hay farming tips with us in the comment section below.