When you own a horse or a barn, you’ll be dealing with storing hay. Hay can be a pricey investment, so you’ll want to be sure that you're storing hay correctly. Here are five tips to get you started.
Store Hay in a Separate Building
Whenever possible, store your hay in a building which is separate from your barn. Hay is highly flammable and is a potential source of barn fires. Using a separate shed, building, or even trailer can be a good way to reduce your barn fire risks. Only bring as much hay into the barn as you will use in a single day. It’s a little extra labor, but it’s a far safer option.
Store Hay on Pallets
Never store hay directly on the floor. Storing hay on the floor exposes the hay to both moisture and dirt. Instead, stack hay on wood pallets. The pallets allow air to circulate, reducing the temperature in the hay while also reducing fire risk at the same time.
Only Stack as High as Necessary
When you do stack hay, try to avoid stacking it too high. Stacking hay high makes it difficult to get down, but it also can cause the middle of the stack to heat up considerably in the summer. In extreme temperatures, hay that gets too hot can combust. Only stack the hay as high as you need to get all of it stored within the space that you have.
Alternate Hay Orientation as You Stack
When you stack hay, alternate the position of the bales to improve the air flow through the stack. Start with one row of bales with the hay strings up toward you, then stack the next row of bales on their sides so that the hay strings are pointing out to the sides. The increased air flow can help to minimize the temperature of the center of the stack.
Prevent All Moisture
Moisture will quickly ruin your hay. It is best to keep your hay in a building which will fully shelter it from the rain and snow. If you must, then use some large, heavy-duty tarps to keep your hay protected from moisture. If hay gets wet, it needs to be fed immediately or there will be no saving it. Wet hay will begin to mold quickly, so if you do have wet hay, remove the bales from your barn, break them apart, and dispose of them.
By stacking hay right, you can increase the safety of your barn while also preventing hay spoilage and loss.