How to Avoid Common Problems with Square Hay Bales

If you’re looking to make quality small square hay bales, you should know a few things. These tips can help you get the most out of your bales and produce good nutritious hay.

According to David Woods Hay Service, keeping your hay stacks neat and level is one of the most important things. That means keeping them stacked in a way that allows for proper ventilation.

1. Mishandling

Square hay bales are one of the oldest forms of hay, and they still have a place in many farm settings today. They are easy to transport and a good choice for small amounts of hay. The square shape also helps to protect the hay from moisture damage.

Traditionally, these bales were knotted and bound manually using strings or twines. However, these days they are largely made with large machinery.

They come in several sizes and are suited for a wide range of applications. They are popular with horse owners and small animal breeders, but they are also useful for landscapers and anyone needing smaller hay quantities.

Some hay producers still produce these smaller square bales, and they are usually available at local farm stores and building supply shops. These small bales typically weigh about 40 to 60 lbs.

The size of these bales also affects how they are handled and transported. Larger bales require more manpower than smaller ones to move around, so they are less practical for most farmers who don’t have the equipment necessary to do this work.

It’s important to store square hay bales properly in order to avoid mishandling and damage. The hay will mold and decay if stored too long without any protection.

To prevent this from happening, it’s a good idea to wrap square hay bales with plastic or other waterproof material before storing them outside. You should also ensure the bales aren’t exposed to ground moisture, which can increase the risk of the hay drying out and becoming moldy.

Finally, using a crop preservative when baling hay is a good idea. Adding a preservative to your hay will allow you to bale at a higher moisture level, which will help the hay retain more leaves and improve nutritional quality.

Depending on the climate, your hay may need to be protected from moisture before it can be used. If it does, you’ll need to arrange the hay in ways that promote air circulation between it and the ground. You can cover the hay with plastic to protect it from moisture or use a bed of gravel to hold it down.

2. Misalignment

If you’re storing square hay bales, there are some things to consider that will help avoid common problems with them. You can use these tips to ensure you’re storing the best hay for your livestock and your farm.

Misalignment of square hay bales is a serious issue that can result in damaged hay, contaminated feed, or an infestation of mold. To avoid this problem, you need to follow a few simple steps.

The first step is to ensure you’re baling at the correct density. This will help ensure the hay is not loose or prone to moisture loss during storage. To do this, you should monitor the baler’s density gauge and ensure it’s set correctly.

Also, you should be sure that the hay is being fed evenly across the width of the bale chamber. This will give the bales a nice square shoulder and better stacking characteristics.

Another step is to ensure you use the proper wrapper for the job. You need to choose a wrapper that can handle the weight of the square hay bale. This will help prevent damage caused by the baler’s weight.

Finally, you should check the hay for any holes or tears. If you notice any significant damage to the hay, you should tape and re-wrap it. This will reduce the chance of a mold or mildew infestation.

Once you’ve wrapped the hay, you should store it carefully. This will reduce the amount of waste that will be caused by rain, snow, and other weather conditions. You should also ensure that the hay isn’t too moist so that it can’t get too hot and burn.

If you’re storing large round bales outside, you can expect to lose 5 to 35 percent of the dry matter in the hay during storage. This is because of the lack of airflow and the higher moisture levels on the bottom of the bales. You can reduce this loss by storing the hay inside and protecting it with a plastic cover.

3. Moisture

The moisture in hay affects the way it handles and is stored. It can cause a number of problems, including mold and mildew growth. This is especially true of hay stored outside or in structures without air conditioning.

Keeping hay at a proper moisture level is crucial to maintaining its quality and value. Ideally, hay should be baled at between 15 and 22 percent moisture (wet basis), which allows it to reach equilibrium moisture and prevents mold activity in storage.

This is important because it prevents mold and bacteria from forming, which may strip the hay of nutrients or cause a fire that can harm livestock. In addition, storing hay at a moisture level that is too low can reduce the amount of microbial activity in the hay, which means that it will lose more of its dry matter and be less useful to livestock.

For small square bales, a 15 to 22 percent moisture tolerance is sufficient for safe storage. Larger round bales tend to retain their core moisture longer than smaller bales, and a moisture level of 18 percent or lower is needed before moving these into storage.

When storing large round bales, it is not advisable to stack them several layers deep. Instead, use a bale wrap to minimize handling and storage risks. Plastic film will not degrade as quickly when wrapped in a line running north-south to evenly balance bale exposure to the sun.

In addition, it is a good idea to store square bales in enclosed sheds or shelters to prevent mold and mildew from growing inside the bales. If hay is left out in the open, it can become saturated with water and begin to soak up rain or snow.

The optimum moisture for storing hay depends on the type of hay being stored and where it is being stored. It also depends on the amount of rainfall or snowfall in a given area and the amount of time the hay will be in storage.

For hay that is being stored in covered structures or shelters, it is recommended to store it at a moisture level of between 15 and 20 percent wet basis. This is not only to keep it from drying out too much in storage but to allow it to reach equilibrium moisture as quickly as possible, reducing microbial activity in the bale.

4. Mold

Hay is an essential part of a horse’s diet, and it should contain maximum digestible energy and protein for the best health and performance. However, this can be difficult to achieve. Many factors can affect hay quality, including moisture and mold.

The first step in avoiding mold is to ensure that you store hay properly. This includes ensuring that the hay is stored away from sources of moisture, such as damp soil or waterlogged areas in barns. If possible, store hay in open and closed airtight containers to allow ventilation within the storage area.

This will help to enhance the drying of the hay, which in turn inhibits mold growth and mycotoxin production. If you have any doubts about how dry the hay is, you can always use a hay test kit to determine the moisture content of the hay.

Another way to avoid mold is to keep the hay from being soaked by rain. This can be done by covering the hay with a large tarp to cover all the bales. The tarp should also be held down with sandbags or rocks to prevent it from blowing off.

Alternatively, you could place the hay in a hay feeder and cover it with a net. This will keep the hay off the ground, where it can easily get moldy and trampled on by horses.

Finally, you can use hay preservatives to inhibit the growth of mold. These preservatives are available in many forms, including sprays and granules. These products are designed to kill specific types of fungi that can grow on and around hay during storage, preventing mold.

In addition to these microbial growth controls, farmers should also avoid baling at a high moisture level. This is because baling at higher moisture levels can cause the hay to be more likely to get wet when it rains, which can also lead to mold formation.

This can cause hay to lose more of its nutrients and become less nutritious. Furthermore, mold can also cause respiratory problems for horses and humans.

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