All livestock owners understand the importance of the hay they feed. So livestock owners know that selecting the proper hay for different livestock is important, but one often overlooked factor is where the hay will be kept once it has been purchased or bailed. Hay that is left uncovered and exposed to the elements is subject to losses of up to 10-25% due to weathering. Proper storage of surplus hay and feed increases overall nutrient retention and ensures that your livestock are receiving complete nutrition from their feed.
For storing both large and small amounts of hay, it is highly recommended that the hay not be kept in the same location as livestock. This is suggested because storing hay in the same building as your livestock creates the potential for a major catastrophe. With large amounts of dry, bundled grass stacked in close proximity of one another, there is a strong chance for even the smallest fire to spread quickly, and if livestock are housed in the same area, this is a major problem. Because of this, an ideal hay storage building is one that is separate from any livestock housing, so that if a fire were to happen, you can significantly limit your losses.
Another word of caution is to ensure that all your hay is completely dry before putting it into storage. Stacking and storing wet hay increases the chances of a fire, because hay has a naturally flammable tendency. If not dried properly prior to storage, a chemical reaction begins to take place within the bales of hay. This reaction results in a flammable gas, and if temperatures within the bales rise high enough, the gas will ignite in flames. Deadly hay fires are an all too common occurrence, but with proper storage location and techniques, the chances of this happening are significantly lower.
Store It Right
When storing your hay, consider the following guidelines:
- Stack on a dry foundation – A concrete floor is best, but tires or pallets are acceptable.
- Proper ventilation – Proper airflow will reduce the risk of mold and fire.
- Only stack hay that is dry – This reduces the chances of a fire starting within your bales.
- Completely cover entire stack – Store inside a building or cover entirely with a tarp.
- Place older bales so they are more easily accessible – Stacked on top or in the front.
- Check bales for pests or rodents – The presence of either can spread disease in your livestock.
Following these recommendations will help you get the most out of your feed. Stacking on a dry foundation eliminates moisture from being wicked up into the bottom bales. While most are aware of the importance of covering their hay, many overlook what they are stacking their hay bales on. Be sure to keep your hay stacked in an area where there is regular air flow to prevent moisture and excessive amounts of heat from building up. You will also want to be sure that you stack any of your older bales in a place where you are able to use them first. Do not stack new hay bales on top of or in front of the old ones. Planning your storage based on the hay’s purchase date will ensure that you do not waste any bales due to spoilage.
Our Building Solutions
Here at ClearSpan, we offer many buildings that are excellent for hay storage, but our custom engineered Hercules Truss Arch Buildings are one of the most popular choices for people looking to store hay. These buildings are able to be installed anywhere, capable of being temporary or permanent and are available in customizable sizes of up to 300’W. Another reason why they have become so popular for storing hay is because their design meets all ideal hay storage recommendations. The building is designed with ventilation in mind, and if the natural ventilation is not enough, customizable end walls and optional sidewall curtains can create additional airflow if desired. The ample indoor floor space and exceptional height allow you to stack and rearrange bales with ease, and the rounded edges of the structure prevent birds, pests and rodents from nesting within the building.
Hay Storage Alternatives
Aside from our custom engineered structures, we also offer many great prefabricated hay storage buildings through our affiliate company FarmTek. Our two most popular prefabricated hay storage structures are our Econoline Storage Buildings and our Freestanding Buildings. These buildings are cheaper than traditional wood and metal buildings, and they also come with customizable features, such as end walls and roll-up siding. FarmTek also carries an extensive line of hay tarps and covers for those who are looking to store smaller amounts of hay. If you are intending to store your hay by covering it with a tarp, you will want to follow the same storage guidelines as if you were storing within a building. You’ll want to stack your hay on a dry, solid surface. If you are stacking outdoors, old wooden pallets make an excellent foundation, because they keep the bottom layer of hay up off the ground and allow air flow to the bottom layer. When selecting a tarp, be sure to select one that is large enough to cover the entire hay stack. FarmTek offers tarps in custom sizes and thicknesses, which makes selecting a properly sized tarp easier than ever.
Proper storage is a major aspect of feeding hay, but often times it is not considered until it is already too late. Stop suffering from hay loss today and give one of our Truss Arch Specialists a call at 1.866.643.1010 or stop by our website www.ClearSpan.com for more information about our buildings.