If you are storing hay for longer than a year, it is important to properly store it. This will help preserve its nutritional value and ensure you get the most out of your investment.
According to David Woods Hay Service, Hay is susceptible to spoilage in a variety of ways, from weathering to animals and other factors. This is especially true in humid climates where hay storage has been known to lose up to 5% of its dry matter.
Stacking square hay bales properly can help them stay in good condition longer. But it’s important to consider a few things before you begin this process.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you need a sturdy foundation for your stack. This will make it easier for you to remove each bale when the time comes, as well as to secure it so that it remains stable during transport.
Next, you need to choose a good site for the stack. Ideally, it should be free of moisture. A moist area will cause the hay to absorb water, which can lead to spoilage. This will also create a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which is dangerous to both animals and humans.
In addition, you need to be aware of the weight of the hay you’re going to be lifting. Even a small square bale can weigh upwards of 50 pounds, so it’s important that you know your physical capabilities before you start stacking them.
Another important factor to keep in mind is the type of hay you’re purchasing. The type will affect how long the hay lasts and its nutritional value. For example, hay that is baled with a high level of moisture will be less nutritious than hay that is dried out after bailing.
You can check the moisture content of hay before stacking it by using a special hay moisture meter. For small square bales, the moisture levels should be between 15 and 22 percent; for larger bales, it should be 18 percent or less.
The hay you’re buying should be fresh and green in color, with a sweet smell. It should have a healthy mix of grasses and legumes, which includes alfalfa and clover.
Once you’ve chosen a site for your stack, you need to prepare the soil. This can include placing gravel or other materials on the ground, as well as removing any roots that could potentially damage the bales.
Finally, you need to place your hay on pallets or in other ways that will promote airflow and keep the hay from absorbing moisture from the ground. This is especially important for storing your hay in the winter when the ground tends to be wetter than during the summer months.
The most important part of storing square hay bales for longevity is to protect them from the elements. Rain soaks up moisture and can cause mold, while prolonged sunlight can deteriorate hay’s nutrient value and increase its susceptibility to disease.
Using a tarp to cover your stack of hay is a simple and effective way to prevent these problems from occurring. A tarp that is cinched properly can protect your hay from the elements and keep it fresh for a long time. The tarp will also help to reduce the amount of waste that can occur from moisture absorption and mold growth.
You can purchase a tarp specifically designed for hay storage. These tarps have a built-in cinch to help make them easier to use. They can be used to cover large stacks of hay or even individual hay bales for easy transportation.
If you are looking for a good tarp to cover your hay bales, consider the Hay CapTM brand tarp. It is made from food-grade recycled plastic and can be quickly put on to protect your hay from the elements. The tarp is reusable over and over again and is extremely durable.
Another option is to use a bale bag, which is available in different sizes and thicknesses. These bags are made from 4 mil polyethylene and have a one-year life expectancy. These bags are also a better choice than stretch film, which can result in holes that are difficult to repair.
A bale bag can also be placed in a stack of hay and secured with a tie-down kit. This will help to prevent the hay from shifting and damaging the bag itself.
The most common type of hay bale is the round bale, although small square bales are becoming more popular as a way to store hay for a number of reasons. Many horse owners prefer these hay bales because they take up less space and are easier to handle.
They are also better for storing hay because they can be stacked. Some farmers choose to use a combination of these two types of hay bales.
If you are going to store hay bales, the most important thing to remember is to keep the internal temperature of the hay at or below 150deg F. If the temperature is above this, then you should disassemble the stacked hay bales and promote air circulation around them.
It is also important to monitor the temperature of the hay bales on a regular basis. This is best done by using a commercial thermometer or a homemade probe to measure the temperature inside the hay bale.
Another option for storing square hay bales is to store them outside in a sheltered area, but the temperature should be kept under control. If the temperature is too hot, then the hay can start to burn. To prevent this, make sure you have a ventilator in the storage area to allow airflow.
To help prevent hay fires, check the hay on a daily basis for temperature. If it is above 150deg F, disassemble the hay and cool it down by moving it to a cooler location or allowing it to air out with a fan.
If the hay is too hot, then the hay can burst into flames and may be dangerous to anyone standing near it. In this case, you should contact the fire department to have them assist you in removing the hot hay.
Keeping the temperature of the hay at or below 170deg F is another important factor for preventing hay fires. If the hay reaches this temperature, then it should be removed immediately to prevent it from bursting into flames.
One way to keep the hay at or below this temperature is to use a ventilation hole in the center of the hay bale. This hole is created by a device that fits into the plunger of the hay baler and compresses a 2-inch diameter hole when each slice of the bale is formed.
In addition to reducing the amount of heating during storage, the ventilation hole can also help improve the quality of the bales after they have been stored. This was found in a study done by Rotz and others (1993). They discovered that the ventilated small square bales had lower heating levels during storage, and they exhibited better ADIP retention ratios than controls. They also saw that DM loss and bound protein levels were slightly less in the vented bales.
In order to properly store square hay bales for longevity, it is important to control the moisture level. Ideally, hay should be harvested at about 20 percent moisture and baled within this range to avoid leaf shattering and molding problems in storage.
Keeping hay in the proper moisture range for storage will also help prevent mold fungi and bacteria from growing on the hay. In addition, this will help preserve the hay’s quality and keep it safe from the weather.
The optimal moisture level for storing hay will depend on the type of forage being stored and the method of baling used. Small square bales formed in arid areas typically have a higher moisture tolerance than large round bales, which are usually formed in humid regions.
Moisture levels should be kept below 22 percent for long-term storage of small square bales and 18 percent for safe storage of large round bales. The larger size and weight of these bales will tend to retain core moisture longer than smaller ones, causing internal heat to build up.
This heat can be detrimental to the quality of hay and can cause some DM loss during storage. To minimize this, hay should be stacked two layers deep and surrounded by a buffer wall or other layer of hay to reduce evaporation from the top of the stack.
For optimum storage, the temperature of the hay should be maintained at around 60 degrees F or lower. To monitor the temperature of the hay, you can use an electronic thermometer or a thermal probe. You can purchase this type of device at any hardware store.
When storing hay, you should always try to avoid exposing it to rain or other water sources. The resulting puddles of water can cause a lot of damage to the inside of the hay.
To reduce the amount of moisture absorbed from the ground, you can try to stack your bales on wooden fence posts, pallets, or crushed rock or gravel. However, be aware that this can only prevent a small amount of hay from absorbing moisture.