Storing round bales outside, unprotected can result in significant storage losses. Depending on bale quality, storage conditions, and length of time in storage, dry matter losses can reach 50 percent.
- Bales should be well-shaped and as dense as possible – the tighter the outer layer, the lower the losses.
- Use bales stored outside without protection by early spring, before air temperature, humidity, and precipitation increase significantly.
- Select a storage site that is not shaded, is open to breezes, and is well-drained.
- Keep bales off the ground.
- Store bales, buffed end-to-end, in rows at least three feet apart.
- Orient bales in a north/south direction.
- Consider covering bales with reinforced plastic as it withstands punctures & tears. With proper care, it can last up to three years.
- Weight covers along the edges and ends, but do not tie covers down tight.
- If bales are stacked in under-roof storage, interior height clearance must be at least two feet higher than the stack height.
- New storage buildings should be constructed on a well-drained site near the feeding area.
Source: “Round bale hay storage” article by Raymond L. Huhnke. Progressive Forage Grower website. October 17, 2011.