Whether you are producing hay for feed or sale, timing and storage has a large impact on its quality. All Hay finds that many consumers that search “hay for sale near me” are also in search of insights for the best ways to cover and store their hay. This is because multiple factors can degrade the quality of hay, and individuals want to properly optimize their storage methods to minimize waste and cost of production along the way. Here, All Hay explores a few ways to streamline storage for indoor and outdoor locations.
Choose an Ideal Location for Storage
Because of the numerous ways that inadequate storage can affect losses, it is important to optimize hay storage by choosing the best location possible. An ideal outside storage location for grass hay would be one that receives sunlight, is not near trees, is well drained to prevent moisture accumulation, and promotes air movement and drying. You will also want to ensure that the storage site is elevated, and preferably located in an area that receives breezes and airflow. Hay is highly flammable, an ideal location for hay storage will be away from machinery and heat sources that can cause your hay to ignite.
Stack Hay Efficiently
As a crucial part of the storage process, grass hay bales should be removed from the harvest areas as soon as possible. This allows for uniform regrowth among the bales as well as the opportunity for more cuttings depending on the type. Bales should be stacked in closely butted rows with gaps of at least three feet between the rows to allow for proper air circulation. Hay bales should be kept in a compacted state so that the hay is not exposed to air that will degrade its quality over time- the denser the bale, the lower the spoilage. It can also be a good idea to stack bales in a manner that older hay will be fed first, this is because feed value losses for hay that is stored for 12 to 18 months may be up to twice as high as losses for hay stored for about 9 months.
Protect Bales from Above and Below
When storing hay bales outdoors, ensure that moisture is not an issue while storing by providing adequate cover from the elements. Large and small hay bales should be covered with plastic sheeting, fabric, or a tarp that can be secured to the top of the storage area. Flat ends of the outside of hay bales and a few inches on the sides of the rows can be left uncovered to allow airflow to enter and moisture to escape. Ground moisture can present an issue during hay storage, and one of the best ways to avoid losses is by placing bales on pallets, tires, coarse gravel, or any suitable material that can keep it elevated.
Keep Storage Area Rodent-Proofed
Rodents can contaminate your grass hay bales and contribute to losses during storage. Always ensure that the storage area for both large and small hay bales is rodent proofed by evaluating the space and keeping an eye out for signs that rodents may have entered. If you notice that there are any small potential entrances for rodents, plug the areas with steel wool to prevent them from causing issues for your hay.
Reduce Fire Risks
Whether you are working with large or small hay bales, hay’s flammability necessitates storage that properly reduces fire risks. The risk of a fire in your storage area can be reduced drastically be ensuring that bales remain cool and dry, with moisture levels no more than 18%. Stacking efficiently and safely is another simple way to reduce the risk of fire, as adequate air movement and ventilation help stave off the factors that contribute to ignition of hay.