A CHARGE FOR HAY?
QWe have a seven-acre field which we’re not grazing as we haven’t got any livestock yet. Our farmer neighbour mowed the field and made it into hay, which he then kept. This has worked out fine for us this year, but in future, should we charge him for the hay?
Kingsley says: It sounds like you are both happy with this year’s arrangement, but let’s have a look at what it would cost you to make your own hay or pay a contractor to make the hay for you. To make hay you’d need to buy a tractor, a mower, a haybob/turner and a baler. You’d then need a trailer to take the hay off the field to an undercover shed or barn. We are talking many thousands, indeed tens of thousands of pounds for all this kit, and if you don’t have an undercover place to store your hay, you’re going to have to build one (a tarpaulin won’t really cut the mustard). You’d also need years of experience and skill to make good hay. To buy in the services of a contractor to make your hay for you, expect to pay approximately £ 35 per hour which equates to around £400-£ 500 for mowing, raking and baling your seven acre field. Depending on the weather, your soil and quality of grass, I’d expect you to achieve 350 to 700 small bales from your field. If locally your hay can be sold for £ 2/£ 3 per bale you could make £700 to £ 2,100. On balance, £ 200 of good will (the difference between a contactor charge of £ 500 and £700 worth of hay) seems reasonable, considering there are likely to be many future occasions