What is the best way to store bales of hay?
A hay shelter should have the following basic elements:
- Cover from precipitation, and ideally the sun.
- A solid, non-moist floor.
Good surfaces to use as a floor include a thick layer of gravel, pallets, or even tires. A concrete or dirt floor will allow moisture to seep into the bottom layer of hay and cause spoilage. If you have a concrete or dirt floor, please add pallets, gravel, or tires to stack the hay on. This prevents moisture from the earth or concrete to seep in, and it increases the ventilation around the bottom of your hay stack.
Pallets are easy to find - feed stores, home improvement stores, supermarkets often have them.
When your hay resouces become low, this is a great time to move your pallets or tires around and sweep out any bits of hay that have (or could) become mouse and rodent housing.
Ventilation is critical to keep temperatures as controlled as possible, either with open sides or exhaust fans. There are several types of exhaust fans that don't even require electricity. Combustion can occur if the hay just right - sometimes too hot and too dry, or even or too hot and still moist inside! Poor ventilation also decreases the quality of hay over time.
This hay room is above the barn, so no need to store on pallets or tires.
You should also be able to get valuable hay storage ideas from your local ag extension service, which will be geared towards your local climate.
What has worked well for your farm?