Janet Reed wrote:It would be helpful to know how much acreage you currently have and how many cows you intend to have. Do you intend to just raise steers or Raise pairs?
John F Dean wrote:I buy most if my hay. I do harvest some of my own. On 11 acres, I really dont have a lot of space to grow hay. Then again, my needs are limited. I do buy all my straw. The used bedding makes it's way to my raised beds in the fall. Wasted hay ends up in the compost bins. Depending upon the weather, it takes a year or 2 to break down.
Artie Scott wrote:What James said. Very hard to source organic or no-spray hay, so if you hay it yourself, you know exactly what the inputs are. Crap shoot otherwise.
The other crapshoot is getting the neighbor to cut your hay when it needs to be cut. My experience is there are literally thousands of reasons why that won’t happen. That means weeds get a foothold, nutritional value goes down, and so on.
If equipment is not an issue, I would say cut it yourself and maintain control. Equipment is darn pricey tho.
Janet Reed wrote:Okay..90 acres.
I think it all comes down to math. I don’t know what your initial investments will be so here’s how I figured it.
D Nikolls wrote:It depends... what is hat worth where you live?
In my area, there are a LOT of horses. More than any other livestock.
Marco Banks wrote:Buying hay is no different than buying food for yourself and your household. In the same way you should be thoughtful about where your human food comes from and only purchase from reputable sources, so also, you can be reasonably sure that you are getting non-sprayed hay and fodder for your cattle if you carefully purchase from people you know and have an established relationship with. Once you've established a credible source, and you've built a solid relationship with that seller, life is easy.
Buying fertility off of someone else's land and bringing that carbon and fertility back to your land ---- that's a no-brainer. Selling hay off your land is a way to make a quick buck, but you're selling your fertility to someone else. If someone else wants to mine their soil and sell you their hay, by all means, do it. Live cattle sell for about $1 a pound. A fully mature grass-fed live steer ready for slaughter weighs about 1200 lbs.
Eliot Mason wrote:Good discussion.
My area isn't good for hay - late spring rains push harvest dates past the optimal time. Cows don't care about rain. I'm also close enough to some world-class hay growing areas so its easy to get good hay. My hay grower doesn't use herbicides - they're signs of poor management and an unnecessary expense. He also seems to mostly sell to cattle & dairy operations, not horses, and that seems to make a difference (we don't eat the horses here). Lots of my neighbors grow and cut hay - I think horses eat it, my cows just look at, look at me and their eyes say "We'd rather eat dirt" and they walk away.
So growing hay really isn't an option.
I looked into making haylage - it doesn't require dry conditions and the fermentation of it seems to make otherwise less delectable bits into something tasty. But ouch, its so expensive to get the equipment. I think it was at least $30k and someone else told me it was closer to $80k. That's a LOT of purchased hay, especially since I'm a really small scale. Even buying haylage instead of hay is a problem because the bales are 1,000 lbs or more and I can't move them with my current equipment. And there's all the plastic...
Artie Scott wrote:
The other crapshoot is getting the neighbor to cut your hay when it needs to be cut. My experience is there are literally thousands of reasons why that won’t happen.