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How to Store Round Bales

Posted on September 5, 2018 at 7:20 PM

One of the original sellers for round bales was the fact they could shed water. Round bales were often times left in the field till they were needed. As round balers evolved, so did the way they were stored.


The most common way of storage today is outside in rows, preserving the hay on the ends of the bales but still losing hay on the outer edge. Net wrap has made this a more viable option as it protects more of the hay than twine wrapped bales. It is essential when storing the bales in rows, to leave space, enough to walk, between the rows to prevent molding. It is also important to make sure the bales are dry enough so they don’t heat up, which will ruin the hay.


Some people choose to store their bales outside under a tarp. They are generally stacked three high in a pyramid shape, and a tarp placed covering over the stack. Make sure to use a good tarp with no holes and to secure it down properly. If the tarp rips or comes off you may end up with a messy pile of hay. This option can be difficult for areas that experience high winds, as the tarps will get ripped apart in no time.


Another way to store round bales is inside a barn. This is the best option for dry hay as it preserves the most hay, although many people do not have room for round bales, as they can take up quite a bit of room. Most people place pallets, or something similar, underneath the bales to prevent molding at the surface, and allow the hay to breathe. It is best to place the hay facing upward as high as you can, generally two or three bales high in most pole barns, than if needed you can place another row on top facing outward. Make sure you have the proper equipment to stack the bales, as many smaller tractors can be dangerous to stack hay this high.


Balage has become an increasingly popular option over the past couple of decades and rows and stacks of white marshmallow looking bales can be seen all over the countryside. Balage bales,similar to haylage, are baled with a higher moisture content and then wrapped shortly after with plastic. There are two more popular types of wrappers, inline and individual. Inline wrappers are known for their speed, as they wrap bales end to end in a row, which is nice for dairy farms but can be difficult for smaller farms as the bales will mold if not used quick enough. Inline wrappers can wrap the bales in the field one at a time, much slower than inlines, they can then be stacked with the help of a bale hugger and can be fed individually without issues of molding. Another option is to wrap dry hay. The hay is wrapped in the same manner, but you have to make sure the hay is dry enough, usually it is best to let it sweat out by letting it sit for a week or so, or anyways the hay could mold inside the wrap.


However you store your hay the key is to bale it at the right moisture content, and to make properly shaped bales. Many farmers now use a combination of these options depending on the different qualities of their hay. Always keep safety in mind especially when stacking bales above your head.


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