“The storage barn for hay is the only building on the property that will actually pay for itself. It pays for itself by reducing the amount of loss that you’ll experience by leaving this hay out in the field.”
Agrilife Extension forage specialist Larry Redman says a lot of people think round bales are invulnerable or impervious to damage.
“If you take a six foot diameter hay bale, for example, and if all you lose is the outer 4 inches of that, and that’s pretty typical if not conservative, then you will have lost 25% of this round bale. If you lose the outer 6 inches of this bale, you actually lose a third of the entire bale.”
Redman says when you put hay in a barn you lose virtually none of the hay.
“You have virtually no animal refusal, and so you actually get the benefit of that hay bale, and with hay costing what it costs today, to fertilize it, to harvest it, we can’t afford to give up not even 25% of these bales.”
If a producer doesn’t want to put money into a barn the second best choice is a hay tarp.
“You can stack these bales up in a triangle shape, and you’ll put that tarp over the side, but you want to leave the ends open, so that you can get good air movement from those bales. So that you don’t get a lot of condensation trapped inside there. There’s some data that suggests that the light colored tarps are better in that regard.”
And finally, if you can’t cover it, there is a way you should place the bales
“Find a place in the field that’s well drained, preferably on a slope. We’re want to put the bales, we’re gonna put them where the flat ends are going to butt up together, and the rows, we’re going to leave 2 to 3 feet between the round side, between the rows. We’d like to orient the rows north and south. The reason is so we can maximize east west sun exposure.”
Proper hay storage, just one more way for today’s beef producer to increase efficiency and reduce input costs. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, from the ground up.