Does Growing Your Own Hay Make Good Financial Sense?
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether growing your own hay or purchasing makes good financial sense. And making a decision based on cost alone isn’t usually a wise move.
While it is true that some farms can easily support a hay growing operation, even in those cases, money and manpower spent on growing hay may be better used in other areas. When deciding to buy hay, keep in mind the fertilizer value of hay. For example, nutrient-rich hay that is spread on pastures over the winter allows for these nutrients to be distributed to sections of pasture that require them.
The price and availability of land are also important considerations. Managed pasture allows for a longer grazing season resulting in a larger herd size and stocking rates on smaller amounts of land. It also means less fertilizer and fuel for a cattle operation.
Before you make the commitment to grow your own hay, make sure you can answer yes to the following questions:
Do I have enough land available for hay production?
Do I have enough time in my schedule to put toward hay production?
Can I find laborers in the event additional manpower is necessary?
Are there funds available to purchase necessary equipment?
Can I diversify my operation to allow for the sale of my hay?
Is there a demand for my hay?
Do I have the space necessary to store hay and hay bales?
Will I be able to keep waste to a minimum?
Limited land or time mean growing your own hay is probably not in your best interest. And if you need to hire workers to grow hay, don’t forget to calculate the return on investment to make sure it makes good financial sense.
Of course, there are times when growing your own hay makes sense, even if conditions aren’t perfect. This is particularly true if you have limited access to a reliable hay source or the price of hay is prohibitive. Shipping costs – if applicable – also must be taken into account.
Growing your own hay can eat up a lot of resources. Therefore, it is essential that the pros outweigh the cons before making this type of commitment.