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Serving: IN
hay bales
STARTING POINT: Rates for mowing and baling hay vary across Indiana. A Purdue survey can provide a starting point for setting custom rates.

Custom rates guide for hay operations

Here is information on what people charge for various tasks related to hay production.

Custom hay mowing and baling are common in parts of Indiana where people have small patches of hay but don’t want to own the equipment needed to mow, rake and bale hay themselves. How much people charge for these services varies widely across the state.

Michael Langemeier, Purdue University Extension agricultural economist and associate director of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture, attempts to check the pulse of custom rates for various operations through a survey. It’s a voluntary survey usually based on responses collected from producers who attend meetings over a certain period of time. The custom rates reported in the table below were published in 2017. Another survey will be out sometime this year to update these findings.

Langemeier says the rates should only be used as a guide. They provide a reference point based on what people who do custom work say they charge or what people who hire others to work for them say they pay.


The numbers reported are averages and are typically based on responses from a dozen to two dozen people who participated in the survey, and sometimes fewer. What is charged as a customary rate in your area may vary from what is reported here for the statewide average.

While people become accustomed to “going rates” in an area, Langemeier notes that if someone is serious about doing custom work, they need to recover full ownership and operating costs to maintain a profitable business. Keep that in mind no matter which side of the fence you’re on when you’re negotiating custom rates — whether you’re doing the work or paying for work done.   

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