Being a farmer is not easy work, especially if you haven’t done it in the past. Even with the latest in innovative products and equipment, it is not an easy life to live. Market fluctuations, environmental conditions, and soil disruptions can put even the most lucrative farms under. If you want to build something for the future, which is recession-proof, hay farming may be your ticket to financial freedom if you make a product that people will spend more for.
Many assume that hay is hay, but for those who know the industry, there is a supreme difference in the quality of hay. Due to a drop in the market and the increasing price of caring for livestock, if you produce a high-quality hay product you will beat out the competition. Offering a more nutritious yield will set you apart from other hay farmers and not only will it increase your sales, but you can also increase the amount of money that you charge for your product.
The reasons that people need hay are varied, as are the way that they are looking for the hay to appear and be bailed. If you are selling to the dairy industry, the hay is preferable in large bales, but if you are selling to the equestrian community, they desire a more green, fresh and nutrient looking quality of hay. The key to maximizing your profits as a hay farmer is offering the highest quality and knowing who you are marketing the hay and selling it to.
It is imperative that you understand the basics of hay farming before starting a hay farming operation. Although seemingly simple, it is anything but. The way to make your product more desirable is to know the quality you want to produce and sell, being able to protect your yield for conditions that will ruin your harvest, storing it and knowing the basics about when to harvest and when it is best to cut or let it mature.
There are six basic farming procedures that should be followed to yield the best quality hay possible and to drive up the cost of your product.
The only way to increase the quality of your hay produce is to make sure to know when to make the first cut, how to dry hay faster and then how to schedule each proceeding cut according to a specific schedule. Hay needs to have the right amount of time to mature and be cut at the right intervals to make each harvest as good as the one that came before.
You have to set the pricing according to who you are selling your product to. There is no sense in over pricing your hay and missing the opportunity to sell it, or to sell it below cost and not get the maximum price. The price should be based on your local market. So, investigating other operations is the best way to set a price that will yield the best profit.
Select the right type of alfalfa or grass seed
There is nothing that will determine the quality of your harvest more than the seed that you choose to grow. Spending a little more may mean that you get a better and consistent yield while spending too much, if it isn’t going to help your profit margin, doesn’t make much sense. Again, the key is to know your market and choose the highest quality seed for your target niche.
The only other key to quality hay growing that you can’t undo is the nutrients contained within the soil. Be careful that the area you choose to grow your hay doesn’t have a slope that will lead to constant erosion of the soil. When the ground falls away, the nutrients used to grow it goes too.
As important as growing is, having the proper place to store your harvest is just as imperative. If you don’t have a place to store the hay that you grew, you may be pressured into selling it at a lower price than you would if you had a place to store it. By storing it for times when hay is not in abundance, you can maintain a higher premium price year-round, instead of only having a product that is available seasonally.
Readjust through testing
To maintain quality, it is important to continue to test your product and to make adjustments as necessarily. Quality control is imperative to always having a consistently good product. If you don’t have quality measures in place, by the time it is ready to cut and sell, it will be too late.
The key to your hay farming business is to be smart, think ahead, and always offer a consistent and quality product to your niche market.