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June 9, 2015

Hay Storage: Tips and Good Ideas to Keep Hay Fresh

If you're a farmer, rancher, or even just keep grazing animals as pets or as a hobby, you know better than anyone how precious good, fresh hay is. Not to put too fine a point on it, animals need a lot of hay, and it's getting more expensive than ever. Improper hay storage means wasted hay, and that means wasted money and hungry animals.

Here are some hay storage tips and general best practices to make sure you're keeping your hay as best you can, saving money and reducing waste in the process.

The Importance of Proper Bailing


When we talk about storing hay, what we're really talking about is storing bales of hay, and that's impossible to truly do right if the bales themselves aren't up to snuff. There are three basic ways to bale hay: in small squares (about 2'x2'x4'), large squares (roughly 3'x3'x8'), or in large rounds. Square bales are good for storage indoors, and are typically pulled according to need. Large round bales are stored outside, and are used whole, to feed all at once. If you don't have enough animals to eat a whole round bale in a few days or less, what's left over is going to spoil, so it's only the best option if you're running a relatively big operation.

The same is true of square bales. The less you need, the smaller the bale is probably necessary. If you only have one or two animals, a large bale of hay will need to be picked apart, leading to more waste. Bales should stay intact for as long as possible to stay fresh.

You should also avoid bailing hay when it's too wet, and make sure that bales are tightly-packed and dense enough to keep out the elements and prevent rot.

Store Hay Inside


The most important thing in hay storage is keeping it dry, so obviously keeping it inside will be better than leaving it outside. Pole barns make great hay storage buildings, and are relatively cheap and easy to build compared to many alternatives. Unless you have a lot of extra space in your garage, a pole barn for hay storage might be the way to go.

Make Sure Hay is Properly Ventilated


Stack bales in such a way as to ensure proper ventilation. This could mean stacking them on an elevated shelf, on littered ground (littered with “fines," or stray hay and other particles), wood pallets, or even on top of old tires. This prevents bales from sucking up moisture from the ground and mold or fungus from growing. Stack the bottom layer of bales on their sides “string side" facing sideways, then the second layer with the string side up, alternating as you continue; this also allows for better ventilation by creating an uneven surface.

You should also make sure that your hay barn is well-vented, for the sake of your hay and the building itself.

Safety First


Hay is extremely flammable, so be sure to keep it away from any potential sources of ignition. No gasoline, no kerosene, and definitely no smoking in your hay barn. Keep trucks and other machinery away too, except for tractors and pallet jacks as you need them. If your barn has electricity, keep wiring maintained and up to code to prevent electrical fires.

Animal Proof Your Hay Barn


Rodents and other animals think hay barns are great places to be, and will be surprisingly crafty in their attempts to get in. Unfortunately, they can eat up hay, chew through bale strings, and even cause electrical fires by eating through wires. Close any rat or mouse holes you find, keep doors and windows shut, and make sure soffit, fascia, and eaves are all in good shape. A cat or black racer snake might be a welcome friend.

To learn more about getting a pole barn for hay storage, contact The Pole Barn Company today by calling (844) 213-0034 or by using this handy form




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