The hard part to staying profitable in the hay baling business is usually related to operational planning and weather uncertainties. We’ll focus on the planning piece here, and assume you are just now getting started. Talk with a local equipment dealer 6 months in advance to get a feel for costs and schedule time with a local bank to understand interest rates and programs for hay balers. Start doing some quick math. Jot down your current income minus all of your debt payments and living expenses. This will tell you where you stand from a financial risk standpoint.
The objective of some hay producers is to (a) buy equipment, (b) produce hay, and then (c) sell the hay before too many debt payments roll across the table. The advantage of purchasing new equipment is immediately realized when you have just a few dry days during the baling season. If you’re spending dry sunny days working on your baler, that’s not good business (if your equipment is not currently up to spec, write down a plan to get you into more reliable equipment). Sharing equipment with a neighbor is actually a great idea as well!
You should have a written plan of how you will execute the baling season. Plot your clients on a map and know precisely where their properties are. You can literally schedule by the hour how you will move your equipment across your town and know exactly how many acres are currently cut, rowed, or baled. As the size of your business allows, have someone help you with hauling or running a particular piece of equipment. An efficient time-sensitive operation like baling is best managed by having experts perform individualized tasks. Let us know if you have some ideas of your own you’d like us to share in a future article. [email protected]