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Paying farmers to grow straw vs. shopping around and buying it.

 
Tom Connolly
Posts: 178
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I have been reading up on straw bale homes and have learned of the importance of buying a good bale of hay. Is it difficult to buy good, useable straw bales of hay in quantities of 2-300? Would it be simpler - cheaper - to contract with a farmer in the area to grow an appropriate crop to give me the straw that I want?
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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It is not that hard if you are in grain country. But most do not bale it because every working second goes to getting the primary crop out of the field first. Then if it hasn't rained they may consider baling it. Round bales because CAFO's need bulk.

You are definitely better off talking to a farmer ahead of time. Most don't mess with square bales because they don't have anyone to load them. I have seen high school football players not make it a full day of bucking bales--including one that made the NFL. It is WORK. If you can do it, it is better to ask to buy them out of the field--you load them from where the baler dropped them. You also might make a deal that you will buck X of his for the Y you need. If you are up to it.
 
Ardilla Esch
Posts: 198
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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You seem to be confusing hay and straw in your question. When you talk to suppliers/farmers it is important you ask for straw.

I would go to the local feed stores and see what the quality of the bales is like and find out prices and delivery fees. Then go and talk to grain farmers about buying direct. Don't forget to figure in the cost of trucking. When discussing price with farmers you should tell them you want tight bales - also you can talk to them about doing some half bales etc. Buying direct may or may not get you lower prices - hopefully it would get you better quality. One of the nice things about buying from a feed store is you can inspect the bales before they are delivered.

So it is possibly cheaper (but not necessarily) to buy direct from the farmer. This is probably not simpler unless you live where a lot of wheat, barley, etc. is grown.
 
tim Trammell
Posts: 19
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Where do you live, if in grain country it wouldn't be hard to get straw bails. Like mentioned above most farmers don't mess with straw, because it doesn't make them money. BUT most probably have a small square bailer laying around, and it they know ahead of time they have a customer I'm sure they will be happy to bail you up as much as you want. Get out and talk to a few farmers, or but an ad on craigslist. for that quantity you should be able to them for 2.00 a bail or maybe less.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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A touch of economics for you:

Twine-tied square bales have 6-8 cents in twine per bale; wire-tied have 20 cents just in wire PER BALE.
With fuel at $3.50, most of the guys around here figure they have 40-60 cents a bale in wear/tear/fuel for hay bales.
Plus transport to/from the field (really matters for small fields, often more $$$ than actually running through the field).
Plus time.

So don't expect less than $2 even in the field with $3+ fuel. Less than that is charity from them to you.

You will have to work at half-bales--adjusting most balers is a PITA. I am going to build a special collar so I can quickly switch from full to half-bales without changing the full length size.
 
Denis Huel
Posts: 88
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Even in grain country it may be difficult to get decent straw bales as most modern harvesting equipment is designed or has attachments to reduce the straw to small fragments to facilitate direct seeding of the next crop. Best bet is to look to smaller farmers running older equipment and perhaps make an arrangement to purchase their straw.
 
Steven Feil
Posts: 242
Location: South Central Idaho
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Almost every grain field gets baled in our area, the small bales. Some do 1 ton and 2 ton square and very few do rounds.
 
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