Protecting the hay you worked tirelessly throughout harvest to bale is crucial in ensuring that the minimum amount of dry matter content is lost. Considerable losses ranging from 5-20% can occur by leaving your hay uncovered and in direct contact with the ground, thus the ability to minimise this comes down to how you have the capacity to store it.
Whilst it is impossible to eliminate all wastage; by keeping the below considerations in mind, you have the ability to get the most out of your hay supply:
- If you have no other option than to store your hay outside uncovered, attempt to elevate your hay bales on gravel. This restricts moisture wicking up from the soil into the bottom of the bales and decreases bottom spoilage.
- How tightly your hay is packed will also affect the ability for rain and moisture to penetrate the bale. Obviously the looser the hay is packed, the harder it is for the hay to shed water
- The orientation of your bale rows also plays a significant part in your ability to reduce dry matter loss. North-south rows are best for allowing the sun to dry out the bales in between rain
Whilst storing your hay on gravel and covering with tarp will limit its exposure to the weather and moisture, the best possible way to minimise or completely avoid dry matter losses is to store your hay in a hay shed or shelter. However it is important to be mindful of ventilation and airflow, especially in the 1-3 weeks following baling; this allows moisture to exit quickly and prevents moisture build-up resulting in mould and rot.
By incorporating gutters, sufficient drainage and 2-3 walls to your hay shed, you work to avoid water pooling at the base of your hay stacks and offer maximum protection from rain.
If you are considering the construction of a hay shed; future-proofing the design to allow for multi-purpose usage gives you the ability to store machinery and other equipment when the structure is not being used for hay storage.
Fortunately, Wallandra’s long standing partnerships with Australian farmers and agricultural consultants, has afforded us the expertise and capabilities to ensure our hay sheds are structurally designed and engineered to protect the dry matter content of your hay.
Contact the friendly Wallandra team to find out how our specialist team can help you achieve a fit-for-purpose, flexible, efficient, weather-proof structural steel hay shed for your farming operation.