Prevent Storage Loss In Large Round Bales

Every year, producers have concerns about storing large round hay bales and how to reduce spoilage. Round bales usually suffer greater losses than smaller rectangular bales because they tend to stay outside and uncovered between baling and feeding.

Karla Hernandez is a forages specialist at South Dakota State University. She says some spoilage is inevitable but keeping your hay dry is a key component to saving your investment.

"One of the critical points is to cover them. I mean, wrapping around them, and packing them very well and firmly," says Hernandez. "So, if you wrap your hay bales, you have a pretty good and decent chance. If you are not, then you have the probability of having more dry matter losses."

Plastic wrap, tarps, or canvases can all be used to protect your hay.

Bale placement is also very important for airflow. Place them in rows end-to-end, with three-feet between rows. Don’t stack the bales unless they can be covered.

"You get this big rain event, there’s not enough separation, and that will instill an anaerobic condition inside that bale. There will not be enough air to breathe in and that will cause mold. You don’t want that because when you’re trying to feed your animals with that hay it will be a piece of junk," she says. "The quality’s going to go downhill."

Bales that sit directly on the ground can suffer significant spoilage. Elevate them with racks or pallets. If you’re able to get a few under a roof, feed the outside bales first and then those that are inside.

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