The Cost of Haying

The Cost of Haying


hi I’m Mike harvest on the ranch can be
a time with a lot of decisions and when the difference between profit and loss
can literally be a few blades of grass today we continue this month’s hang
series and take a look at the numbers behind hanging on our wyoming life welcome back and thanks for coming along
and continuing to explore the ranch life and escape the ordinary paying season on
the ranch is all about tractors grease oil repairs and pull the crop itself but
what it’s also about is money now that may sound bad but let’s look at it this
way the ranch is full of tools that tractor the grease the oil the wrenches
they need to fix it all of it they’re all tools money is a tool as well on the
ranch and just like I wouldn’t leave a wrench out in the rain to get rusty and
waste away I wouldn’t waste money and knowing where it goes and how it adds
and flows on the ranch is just as important as any other tool all the way
down to the simple tire pressure gauge paying season is a time of year on the
ranch where we hope that whether soil conditions pest populations even fences
all work together to help grow a crop that we can harvest in order to feed the
cows during the winter here in Northeast Wyoming and in our situation with
grazing pastures rainfall and every other contributing factor we’re looking
at feeding hay and supplemental feed to cows for at least six months of the year
in fact we call it 180 days in order to give ourselves a little bit of a buffer
although this spring we’ve fed a little bit longer stretching the feeding season
to about 200 days with a single cow eating an average of 25 to 30 pounds of
hay per day we can figure that we need to have about 5,000 pounds of hay on
hand for each and every single full-grown cow
each bowl is gonna eat almost double that and with just that information we
can figure out what we need our hay harvest to be each year our baler is set
to make bales that weigh about 1,400 pounds each that 5,000 pounds per cow
translates to about three and a half bales per cow and seven bales per volt
to get us through winter with a herd side of 150 cows and currently five
Bulls we need to harvest about 800 thousand pounds of hay or 571 bales now
here’s the difficult part of ranching in Northeast Wyoming we get one shot to get
this harvest rainfall averages are about 14 inches per year here and a majority
of that is an early spring that creates one harvest as the rain tapers off
beginning in July once we cut the grass the one or two inches of rain that we’re
going to receive for the rest of summer and fall is not enough to create any
regrowth because of that we have lots of hay grow a disproportional amount
compared to other climates that may be able to irrigate or get enough rainfall
on their own to create multiple cuttings here each acre of ground has to produce
and each acre is quickly translated to a calf that we could sell in the fall
historically speaking there’s a reason this area of the country was one of the
last to be homesteaded in the early 1900’s it’s it’s a hard area to try to
ranch and I have a huge amount of respect for those that were able to come
here with nothing and build a life here I also feel a connection to those folks
although our struggles may be very different
when we set out to hey we have to start looking at how cost effective it is
grazing ground letting the cows harvest the grass where you costs nothing but it
also doesn’t help when there’s a foot of snow on the ground and the cows are
hungry buying hay will cost us at the very least one hundred and fifty dollars
a ton maybe the worst would be about two hundred and that’s delivered that’s a
delivered price it but it does add up quick with each truckload of hay
carrying 22 tons and costing close to four thousand dollars just for
comparison purposes if we had to buy all of our hay it would cost us on average
of sixty thousand dollars harvesting the hay well that costs also custom cutters
in the area will charge you about twenty-five dollars a bale to cut it
rake it and Bale it in our situation that would be a cost of about fifteen
thousand dollars which really isn’t that bad when you look at it you don’t have
to deal with machine cos there’s no breakdowns and you don’t have to mess
with the time involved the problem is that in this part of Wyoming well it’s
not that common to see custom cutters and finding somebody to custom cut for
you is hard most of us hard-headed ranchers in the area are still
harvesting our own we don’t have the time to go harvest somebody else’s so
the big question is what does it cost to put up my own hay and where is that
break-even point and is it even worth it it all comes down to operating costs
fuel repairs net ramp those are the big three now those are variable costs now
you also have your fixed costs depreciation property tax insurance all
that kind of stuff and all this can get really complicated really fast I’m going
to concentrate today on variable costs of putting up our own hay here on the
ranch and try to keep it as simple as possible now if we really don’t it well
first of all we’d be here all day the easiest way to figure this out for today
may be to look at the three steps of hang and figure out how much each one
costs we mow it we cut it all down we lay it on the ground if then we rake it
up into a wind row and finally we Bale it creating that nice
1800 pounds cylinder of wintertime happiness for the cows so we can start
out by looking at fuel costs all of our tractors use roughly the same amount of
fuel per hour all of our fuel is delivered in bulk and
the diesel is for off-road use only this allows us to be highway tax exempt
because of that we’re getting our diesel at about two dollars and sixty cents a
gallon our average fuel use in the tractors is
six gallons per hour that gives us a fuel cost of about sixteen dollars per
hour mowing involves using a eighteen foot
sickled and that mower is pulled behind a tractor with this setup we can mow ten
acres of hay ground per hour we’re raking now recovering a little bit more
area about 30 feet and really close to about 20 acres per hour and baling is
the same as we’re falling that’s the very same wind row that the rig lays
down for us mowing costs us $16 per hour we mow 10 acres that’s a dollar sixty an
acre raking and bailing heaps costs eighty cents per acre so our fuel cost
at total is three dollars and 20 cents per acre the other thing we have to
consider our repair costs now those are truly variable costs some years we may
spend a couple thousand basic repairs other years it may be a major breakdown
during Hayne that may cost ten thousand dollars we try to average these out and
we say five thousand dollars per year in repair cost during hay now in a perfect
world if we had to spend that whole budgeted amount we would put that into
an account roll it over the next year but you know anything about farming or
ranching you know that money gets spent somewhere else repair costs really are
variable but we try to plan for the worst and we hope for the best for us
we’re cutting about five hundred and fifty acres so repair cost is right
around nine dollars per acre the other big cost associated with
bailing is net rap now this stuff is what we use to keep the bales together
some people still use twine it’s a lot cheaper but I found that the net rap
helps keep bales drier and it keeps them to stay together a little bit longer
each roll of net wrap costs about three hundred and fifty dollars now I’ve tried
cheaper brands they don’t work as well for me and our baler John Deere
obviously wants you to use their brand and their Baylor’s so maybe they’re some
sort of engineered that way but it is what it is you can vary how much you
wrap how much net wrap you use if you’re transporting bales by semi you might
want to wrap each one a couple of extra times and make sure it stays together
but for us we only wrap each Bale twice and a roll of net wrap will wrap about
100 bales now that’s caused of $3.50 per Bale that’s all we’re really gonna look
at for cost today and here in a minute we will look at a cost per Bale I’ve not
added in those fixed costs for this video the insurance the depreciation the
labor costs those are all gonna vary depending on where you are and are much
more very easily left up for you to take an account and based on your location
besides if I put our amounts in here I just get a bunch arguments about anyway
so let’s add it all up and we’ll figure it out our hope here on the ranch is to
average one veil per acre of hay ground our total costs fuel at three dollars
and 20 cents an acre repairs and upkeep at nine dollars per acre and net rapid
three dollars and fifty cents per acre all add up to fifteen dollars and
seventy cents per acre that’s my cost per Bale and I’m not paying myself an
hourly wage to make hay so we’re and we’re also not making making payments on
any of the equipments thanks to my father-in-law Gilbert having loved us
this equipment before he passed away but it’s easy to see how making hay can
really get sideways really fast let’s say I hired
and help us hey now that ranch hand is probably going to want at least $10 per
hour so what do we do well I don’t know we’ve done what what we’ve always done
but I can tell you this that if custom cutters were available here which they
aren’t I probably would hire them I could sell one tractor I could probably
pay for their services for a few years but that is also if we have hay now
drought is something that we struggle with constantly here and such there’s
such a small window of precipitation to make our entire harvest that’s almost a
constant gamble may be having the tractors and the equipment to do it
yourself maybe that’s just the insurance we need just to make you kind of feel
like you’re more in control of your own crop you may ask why I’m sharing all
this with you and the main reason is to give you the background of what we do
and why we do it and what’s required to get food out there to millions it’s not
just us it’s thousands of farmers and ranchers who spend countless hours and
tractors to put food on our tables just the fun I added up the hours that we
spend here on the ranch hang balancing around at six miles per hour
came up with some totals this year we’ll spend 55 hours mulling 28 hours raking
and another 28 and baling total of 110 hours make up the hay that the ranch is
going to use to keep going for another year the amazing part is that 110 hours
often has to be completed in a very short window with as many is well
16-hour days and a few sleepless nights as possible
we are almost done now we have a couple fields left to bail and then we’ll be
able to share with you exactly how harvest went this year we have cut
fields that were hailed out after doing these exact calculations and figuring
out that buying 8 $125 a bale is a bit more expensive than actually put it up
ourselves is 16 and every veil counts are hang wrap up is coming up on Tuesday
then we’re gonna have a little bit of fun next week we’re gonna have another
360 video coming out that puts you right in the driver’s seat lets you make a few
bales yourself I hope you can subscribe explore the ranch life and escape the
ordinary every time you come and visit us until I see you again have a great
week and thanks for joining us and on Wyoming live

100 Replies to “The Cost of Haying”

  1. Bullshit. Those things are giant Mini-Wheats that the farmer sells to the cereal companies. They got Giant Marshmallow farms too. I've seen 'em!

  2. Yeah most people don’t realize all the back office costs of what things really cost. Thank you so much for sharing this and I will share it now with my world. This is a great education for those that don’t understand how farmwife works.

  3. So if you need 571 bails and you make them for about $16, then it's about $‭9,136‬ for hay for the year instead of $60,000? Wow. It was a nice video. Myself personally, I just like to crunch numbers on things, so I'm not as infatuated with the backstory. I am interested in efficiency though and profit margins so the numbers were what really interested me in this video. Now you really have me wondering about if you have to spend $9,136 to feed the cattle, how much each cow is worth. In fact now I'm even more curious as to how much the return on investment is for producing a product organically such as livestock or cash crops versus just manufacturing one out of raw materials.

  4. Not sure how I got here, but I really enjoyed the video. I also want to say that I respect and admire ALL the farmers/ranchers across this great country. Thank you for doing what you do to provide for us!

  5. I don't even have a ranch, but it was enlightening to know how tight the margins could be on someone trying to raise cattle without the land to feed them.

  6. major breakdown, semi truck comes to haul the tractor back to the dealership for repairs…
    This is what right to repair is all about.
    Americans are starting to catch on about planned obsolescence…
    one to many people have died because steel brake lines were put in, instead of copper brake lines. Car companies are allowed to get away with it, just to make a few extra bucks.

  7. Um, wow. I'm from Boston, live in Sacramento, have lived all over the country and traveled my share of not-not-on-Travelocity places including overseas as both a journalist and just plain curious. But, watching this, just wow. I am in total awe of your attitude and life. Hay? Who knew? I never knew why it was bailed in rolls either. Watching them unfurled for the cattle, THAT was cool!

  8. Pleasure watching this video. Made me a bit homesick. I live in Ireland now but I am from Sturgis S.D. and used to work as a ranch hand around Mud Butte S.D. during the early 90's. Easier watching a bit of bailing rather then doing it. But fond memories all the same.

  9. sell that mower and buy a used swather, keep the rake to rake two windrows together since you aren't laying down any amount of dense hay, reduce fuel costs greatly. I can't imagine only one cutting. In Burlington we got 3 cuttings/year.

  10. Been there and done that, Dodge Ranches N-CA: cut, raked and stacked. Too much fun, too much work: Swother and Harowbed.

  11. Up here in Alberta, Canada we yield 4 cuts a year and 2 heads per acre covers grazing and winter hay. We're lucky and after seeing the conditions Wyoming puts up with I understand why Alberta is world known for its BEEF

  12. I’m a city boy with a little of farm experience from when I was a kid. But you have to respect America’s farmers. We don’t give them enough credit.

  13. This is a wonderful video. One note, can you bring the level of the music down some? It'll help your voice punch through more and make it more intelligible.

  14. I've just watched this interesting video that reminded me of the importance of people who work to produce food. May all of you be blessed, folks!

  15. Talking about prices, what would cost to transport a ton of anything from any coastal area up to Cheyenne, by train? Dry seaweed and stuff from fish processing industries are supposed to contain trace minerals that could improve the fertility of soils in the mountains, but I have no idea about the cost.

  16. Rough country to farm in, and that's coming from a Swede. Here we get at least two harvests even really far up into the north , and in the very south of the country a lot of people get 4 harvests in a good year (though most people make silage). 3 cuts of silage is pretty standard in most parts of Sweden. And the harvests are usually much bigger than what yours looks like in this video, so the difference must be pretty big. You have to harvest a huge area for your winter feed! At least you have cheap fuel compared to here.

  17. It's a good thing that people like you are doing all this so the rest of us can have Steak. I would not be able to grow a Steak for myself before I starved to death.

  18. Instead of driving over the same piece of land three times (cutting, raking, baling)…could one tractor tow all three machines (the cutter, the raker, and the baler) at the same time?

  19. We're a farming family goin' back several generations. Dairy & beef. Down to ONE now.. a cousin (female) running a dairy operation. I've thrown my share of ol' square bales.. Now she spits out round. Good memories of hayseed stuck to a sweaty torso, long hours & pan fried donuts 😘 Too bad gov'mnt & agribusiness started ruining smaller tight knit operations. Great vid mister. G'day Mike 😎 P.S: great business #'s. Obviously a ' BINNESS'man 😎

  20. Great video! I harvest between 2-4 timmes per year here in Southern Sweden. I would never ever be able to afford enough land so I could survive with 1 harvest.
    What would happen if you got a dry season? Could you manage a season and following seasons without beign forced to slaughter?

    Great video, good luck to you!

  21. Nice work! You're smart, well-spoken, and seem like a well-adjusted and genuinely nice guy. Keep up the good work. As a native Iowan myself, I urge you to help Montana reject our corrupt, ego-maniac president at the polls next year. He's done a lot help to kill the family farm as an institution, and for that alone, he's gotta go. If you decide to run, you've got my vote!

  22. Anyone who thinks that farmers are "dumb" really need to look at themselves. I have very trusted friends who are farmers and they are so skilful in deciding when to plant, reading the weather patterns, knowing when to harvest, financial nous – the list goes on. At this time their land looks superb with the barley almost ripe, the hay has been harvested and the second cut of silage is coming up. That's in addition to the vegetables they are growing.

  23. thanks for posting this information. you put a lot of hard work into the content and in post. its too bad your really insightful commentary is drowned out by the background music. the topic was still interesting but just hard to listen to.

  24. Hello from Houston suburbs. Lots of hay here. I've wire bailed my fair share of squares. They cost 5 bucks retail. Lot of work for that small payoff. Large rounds are $25 to $30. Never knew the wrap cost so much. Good luck! Back to YouTube's algorithm I'll probably be watching an snl skit next then an old school blink 182 video, followed by how to build a small rocket from common household items.

  25. Looks like your growing the wrong kind of grass. I know of a type of grass that can earn $1,500 to $3,000 per square ft at least twice a year. And the cows absolutely love it. It makes happy cows . Just Ask Colorado.

  26. I am in rural northern PA. I have neighbors that hay. I think one a bail for about $75 for 750 lb. He is the one that tries to get 3 cuttings per year, I think he is successful more than he is not. Another does a single cut, but the cattle graze either before or after, depending on the field.
    One thing my first neighbor mentioned, that you did not, is the specific time you hay. Most people know you that when you hay, you try to have a week of good weather, mostly do dry out the ground and allow the hay to hit a certain moisture percentage. What is not as well know, is you want the nutrient content of the hay as high as possible. This means that you have to wait for the seeds to develop, but not to the point where they are ready to fall off the grass. He also wraps in plastic and marks each bail by which field and which cutting. This tells him the type of hay and the status of each bail. The cows will then get a particular bail depending on the time of year and the closeness to being sold.
    (I am glad I am in IT, we do not get too many days where there is a foot of snow in my office.)

  27. I love how the work always outweighs the profit. Imagine if farming was as lucrative as real estate now imagine if we cared about farming like we do fame.
    Humans can be so disappointing at times. Shout out to all the farmboys and girls that follow in their families footsteps even though they know farming is undervalued and disrespected.

  28. you get a rediculous amount of snow every year. You need to collect up that frozen precipitation to keep your fields irrigated during the summer.

  29. Yea my boss still uses twine still he has about 500 head and 2000 for haying glad I just do the stuff in the yard not the tractors

  30. Move your calving to May-June, rotational graze as long as you can, then bale graze or swath graze on fields close to your winter feed grounds. You can also feed a lot cheaper feed, straw or poorer quality hay and get by. I guarantee you will be amazed at how much money you will save.

  31. I wonder the cost to install a high flow well, and water truck to get a second cut? Less acreage needed or some to sell….

  32. hi mike great video again good to see big round bales in net ,,we chop our round bales when baling about 3 inch chop ,
    we bale with a welger pro baler makes good tight bale ..in ireland we have similar weather one shot at mowing and lifting crop without rain damage ,,,not easy say da least,,

  33. seen another of ur vids why roll feed out so stock can trample on it,, i use ring feeders out doors little or no waste,,just lift and roll if ya have all of 5k acres,,,, ive only 40 acres ,,you guys call that a lawn ,,lol..

  34. It still baffles me that an animal will actually eat this stuff willingly. It's about as unappetizing as it gets. How can anything digest that stuff?

  35. I know nothing about hay or farming and i stumbled on this series. It is absolutely fascinating and beautifully expounded.

  36. First…. one cutting of hay per year out to July ? Should be able to get two cuttings of high quality hay ! Next… Id say rather wasteful seeing the hay fall out of the bale feeder ? There are things that can be altered to save hay. Why unroll it on the open ground ….just to let the cows pee and poop on it ? Them John Deere tractors are costing you deerely !!!! Six gallons per hour ? Hello….. invest in a Deutz Allis tractor the same size…and it wouldnt use 2 gallons per hour. Morever… they seldom have issues. A dice bine would cut circles around a sickle mower…. a Nine footer will cut up to 20 acres per hour. I know I have one. Your cost could be lowered dramatically with just a few alterations. Im a hay farmer……Im familiar !

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