If you have horses, you may want to have a stockpile of hay available for them. This is especially important if you live where the whether gets rough in winter months. These tips to keep hay dry in long term storage are so important. You never want to run out, but you also don't want it to be ruined in storage. Keeping your hay in the best condition is essential. If you do not adequately take care of it, the hay can become damaged and go bad.
Ways to Keep Hay Dry in Long Term Storage
As with many things to know before getting a horse, food and specifically hay, storage is important. Unfortunately, water can lead to moisture, and moisture can lead to mold. You would not want your horses to eat moldy hay because it is terrible for them. When you know what you need to do to store the hay on a long-term basis, you can do a few things to preserve it.
Store Under Cover But Not In Your Barn
This may seem like it doesn't make sense, but hear me out. Since hay is so flammable, it's one item yuo want kept away from your main barn. Yes, you will be adding it to your animals feed and probably using in stalls in the barn, but the larger amounts stored for long term should be placed away from the barn.
You may notice that many farms and even small ranches will have a metal shed or open barn with their hay storage. This keeps the hay dry and out of the elements, but also keeps it safe from catching fire in a wooden building. Keeping your hay separate is the smart choice, and while it may be costly to have a separate building for it, it's worthwhile to safe costs throughout the year, and in emergency.
Consider Using Tarps to Keep Away Moisture
Start by making sure you cover the hay with protective materials. Canvas tarp is one of several options. Besides using a canvas tarp, you can use a plastic covering. The plastic coverings are commonly used in gardens for plant protection but will serve the same purpose for the hay. Carefully place the tarp or plastic covering over every inch of the hay you are not currently using. Tie it down to keep it in place and secure it from the elements, such as the wind, rain, and snow.
This is a simple alternative that works well for many climates, but may not be good enough if you live where it is extremely humid. The tarps can hold in moisture and create the same problem as leaving out in the elements. For this reason, it is best to consider not just the current season but long term issues that could arise.
Keep the Hay Bales Off the Ground
While you might think it makes sense to leave the hay on the ground, it is a bad idea due to the elements. When it rains or snows, the environment will quickly become wet, and that can damage your hay. The goal is to keep the hay for your horses dry instead of wet. If it gets wet and becomes too moist, it may no longer be useful and start to rot. So, how exactly do you keep hay off the ground?
You have a few options to keep your hay elevated.
- Some people like to use wooden pallets. If you have extra wooden pallets available, line them up on the ground.
- Add plastic covering inside them, and then place the hay on top.
- Not only will you have protection from the pallets, but also the protective plastic covering that you have used to line the bottom of those pallets.
- It is a solution that makes sense when you need to keep the hay dry.
If you do not have pallets available to use, there are other options. You can purchase gravel and lay it out on the ground. If you plan to use gravel, you need enough of it to create at least two or three layers. The extra layers of gravel will offer plenty of additional protection for the hay.
Additionally, if you have to store on concrete or dirt, lay the bales on the sides so the wire will add a bit of elevation so the hay itself is not directly on the ground.
Use Plastic Hay Crates
Another way to preserve your hay in long-term storage is to use plastic hay crates. These large crates come in different sizes and offer the perfect amount of space for hay bales. You can stack the crates to keep them organized and to prevent your hay from getting wet. If you decide to use these crates, you should continue to cover the hay with a plastic covering or canvas tarp to have the added protection against moisture and mold.
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You may want to keep a stockpile of hay outside for your horses. Many people keep a supply of the hay to have easy access to it when they need it. While it is a good idea to stock up, you need to take extra measures to keep the hay in the best condition. You want to prevent the hay from getting wet and becoming moldy. There are different ways to keep your hay in excellent condition. Make sure to keep it covered and off the ground. If you take the right steps, you can keep your hay dry and fresh for the animals throughout the year.