Hay Storage: Important Do’s and Don’ts

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

When it comes to storing your hay, nothing can be done halfway. It is important to take great care when storing hay bales in order to avoid possible spoilage, fire, or other unwanted circumstances.  Make your hay last and remain high-quality by following the do’s and don’ts below!

If you are storing your hay indoors, DO ensure that the roof of the building does not leak and that there is good ventilation.  You should try to shield the hay from the elements as much as possible; contact with rainwater or humidity will affect the moisture levels of the hay bales and could result in spoilage.

DON’T stack your hay on the bare ground/soil.  Doing so will allow moisture to come in contact with the hay, which can spoil it quickly.  Instead, stack your hay on top of something that will provide distance from the ground such as tires or wood pallets.

DO put together an organization method for your hay and stick to it.  A proper organizational method will ensure that your hay does not go to waste.  For example, stack new hay behind older hay bales to ensure that the older hay is used before the newer hay.

DON’T store all of your hay in your main barn.  Hay is highly flammable, especially during the dry season. It is best to take these precautions so that there is less risk of fire in your main barn.  Instead, store the hay in a separate building. If you do not have a separate building to store your hay in, keep only small amounts in your barn.

If you are storing your hay outdoors, DO cover dry hay with a tarp to ensure that it is protected from the sun and from rainfall.  Extended exposure to sunlight could bleach the hay and cause it to lose its nutritional value.

DON’T stack all of your hay bales facing the same direction.  It is best practice to alternate the orientation of the hay bales on each layer of the stack; for example, stack the bottom layer with the long ends of the bales facing upwards, stack the second layer so that the hay strings face upwards, and then continue alternating.  This will ensure proper air circulation throughout the stack and will help to prevent molding.