At this time of the year many smallholders will be relying on supplementary hay for feeding their livestock. How to store hay bales correctly is important to maintain the quality of the hay.

Hay is a generic term for grass or legume plants that have been cut, dried and stored for use as animal feed.

Some small farmers will have cut and baled their own grass at the end of summer, but many others will have to buy in fodder. Either way they need

If you are lucky enough to be able to store it indoors just ensure that there is adequate ventilation.

Store hay where it’s accessible. Don’t stack it higher than you can safely move it. This is especially important when stacking large round bales. Stack new hay behind older bales so you can feed the older hay first.

Hay is highly flammable, so you don’t want it overhead if your main barn catches fire.

Do not store bales on bare ground or on concrete, as it is likely to become damp underneath. Rather place it on pallets or tyres.

Storing small square bales

If storing small square bales, stack the bottom layer on their sides with the strings facing sideways instead of up. Stack the second layer with the strings facing up, perpendicular to the first layer and then alternate.

It’s better to store hay bales under a roof.

The other option is to create a square stack by laying your first six bales in two rows of three, then the second layer of six bales at right angles to the first layer.

Round bales should also be stored on the twine or wrap side. They store well when flat ends are placed end-to-end in long rows.

Covering your haystack with tarpaulin keeps the sun off it – sunlight bleaches hay, causing it to lose nutritional value, especially protein and vitamin A. However covering it does not make a significant difference to the moisture content of the grass.

Smallholders in winter rainfall areas will obviously take precautions to keep the hay dry.

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