Answer: Some farmers bale hay to feed their livestock. Other farmers, like us, have a hay baling business as part of our diversification on our family farm.
I started baling hay in 2001, as a way to diversify and stay on the family farm. I started out with 20 acres of hay and grew the business from there. Now, after family and other farm responsibilities, I bale 50 acres to keep my loyal customers satisfied with high quality hay.
We also do custom baling and mowing for other family farms.
The process of growing good hay involves good weather – to make sure it doesn’t get rained on over roughly three days (from cutting to baling) and it’s sunny.
I mow the hay down and use a tedder to spread the hay out (which is only needed if the hay is really wet). Before we bale, we rake the hay into wind rows that the baler can handle, then bale the hay.
Baling hay has progressed over the years, from manual labor to more work by machines. I now use an accumulator that sets ten square bales out and we are able to use a skid steer with a hydraulic grapple attachment to pick them up and stack them on a trailer where we take inside a shed to stack the bales in a cool, dry environment.
It is important to keep the hay dry and not bale it wet, so mold doesn’t form. I raise mostly a 50/50 mix of alfalfa and orchard grass mix. The majority of my customers have horses they feed the hay to.
When it comes to baling hay it’s an all-hands-on deck process. One person drives the tractor with a baler, another is in a truck with a flatbed trailer, while the third person drives the skid steer with grapple attachment to stack on the trailer. On a good day we will have an extra person on hand to unload in the hay shed.
It is also nice to have more crops, like hay, in the rotation other than corn and soybeans. Besides hay, we have wheat fields to harvest and bale the wheat straw, which is used for bedding for animals.
As our kids get older, they take on more responsibility helping get the baling done!
The Ness Family – Jason, Stacie, and children, Mollie, Lucas, and Adam raise pigs, corn, and soybeans and have a hay baling business in rural Hinckley.