The Effects Of Weathering On Hay

Friday, June 24th, 2016
Large round bales of hay covered by hut

Hay has long been the most commonly used food for livestock across the country. Unfortunately, great losses are common as well, especially in areas where rainfall amounts are high. Statistics reveal that 10 percent of the cost of livestock production comes from hay storage and feeding losses. Despite these high numbers, many people don’t realize how much hay loss they actually experience. Weathering is the major reason for this type of loss. This condition occurs when the bales are stored outside and become exposed to the elements. The longer weathering occurs, the greater the loss. It is important for anyone who feeds their animals hay to understand how weathering can be so damaging and how bales can be safely stored.

How weathering damages hay

Moisture content rises in bales that are stored outside without proper covering. Weathering often begins slowly, but quickly advances. This process is quick because rain can easily permeate into weathered hay, which has a difficult time drying out. If you live in an area with high rainfall, dry matter loss can reach about 50 percent. In a highly weathered portion of a bale, about 15 percent of crude protein and 25 percent of digestible nutrients are lost. These weathered bales are usually rejected by livestock, leading to low intake and increased losses.

How to safely store your hay bales

More than 50 percent of loss occurs when your hay is stored outside, usually because the bales are sitting directly on soil. To reduce weathering, the bales and the soil should never meet. This storage method is especially harmful if the ground below the bale is dry. If a bale weathers on its bottom, it will flatten and allow more of the hay to come in contact with the earth.

The best way to prevent weathering of your bales is to store them inside a barn. If you store them inside, the reduced loss of hay will nearly pay for the construction of a barn in a short time. If you live in an area with high humidity and rainfall, proper storage is especially important for safety and saving money.

If you would like to learn more about proper hay storage, contact SB Hay & Feed in Amarillo, Texas. Call us today at (800) 652-3036 or Contact Us by email for more information. We will be happy to answer your questions and help direct you to the right products for your animals. You can also see the hay we have available to buy or sell your own!