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Hay Storage Considerations - Pasture [Skip to Content]
Illinois Livestock Trail by UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION


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Illinois Livestock Trail
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Hay Storage Considerations
by Justin Sexten, Extension Specialist, Animal Systems / Beef


Several simple round bale storage practices can be utilized to prevent losing hay to weathering after harvest.

The first key to minimizing dry matter losses begins with the baler, if your baler is capable of variable bale sizes consider making the bales as large as equipment, baler and loader permit. As bale size increases the percentage lost due to spoilage decreases. For example a 4 foot bale spoiled 4 inches deep will loose 30% of the original dry matter whereas a 6 foot bale spoiled the same depth will loose 20% of the original dry matter.

Several other simple and inexpensive ideas can prevent excessive dry matter losses due to storage. The least expensive practice is to properly orient bales in storage areas. The flat ends of the bales should be placed tightly together. The bale “rows” should be oriented north and south on a well drained location. Do not allow rows to touch, space at least 3 feet apart so water from one row doesn’t run off onto another. If possible place bales on gravel or wooden pallets to minimize ground contact.

Many times hay is stored under trees at the edge of the field or in waterways, these practices encourage hay spoilage and dry matter losses. Storing hay in these dark, damp environments prevents the sun from drying the hay after a rain and encourages the bottom of the bale to remain wet. The only suitable dark location for hay storage is a barn but for those producers without sufficient barn storage space remembering a few hay storage keys will help minimize storage losses.

For more information regarding hay storage and feeding refer to “Minimizing losses in hay storage and feeding” by Ball et al., 1998 or contact Sexten at sexten@uiuc.edu or (618) 242-9310.

Justin Sexten, 618-242-9310, sexten@uiuc.edu
Date: May 10, 2006


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