Optimizing Outdoor Hay Storage




Uncovered outdoor storage of round bales is a reality for many dairy and beef farmers. The following tips can help optimize outdoor hay storage and limit feed losses, spoilage, and quality issues caused by exposure to the elements.

  1. Use net wrap. The initial investment of net wrap pays off in the long run, research shows. Thanks to their superior water-shedding abilities, net-wrapped bales have 30% less dry matter losses than their twine-wrapped counterparts.
  2. Density matters. Dense, well-formed bales not only shed water better, but also sag less. This reduces bale-to-soil contact and lessens losses due to moisture wicking.
  3. Ground Cover. Further prevent moisture wicking by getting the bales off the ground. Bales can be elevated on wooden pallets, fence posts or railroad ties, or a layer of gravel.
  4. Location, location, location. Be sure to select an ideal storage location – one that gets sunlight, is away from trees, is well drained, and promotes air movement and drying.
  5. Stack ‘em tight. Bales should be stacked end-to-end to reduce spoilage. If stacked on a slope, bale rows should run up and down the slope to allow optimal drainage.
  6. Allow air flow. Leave at least 3 feet between rows for optimal air circulation.

While actual losses will depend on a variety of factors (precipitation, temperature and humidity, forage type, storage duration, etc.), a well-thought out storage plan will help preserve your feed ingredients.




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