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Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Horse > Horse nutrition > Storing round bales outside

Storing round bales outside

Krishona Martinson, PhD, U of M

Storing round bales outside on the ground is a very common practice and represents the most economical method of hay storage. However, it also has the greatest potential for loss due to weather.

Round bales typically have a higher storage loss than small square bales, especially when stored outdoors. Studies have shown outdoor storage losses range between 5 and 35 percent depending on the amount of precipitation, storage site location, and original condition of the bale. Most of the losses that occur during outside storage take place on the bottom of the bales where moisture levels remain highest and air movement is the lowest.

There are a number of storage techniques that minimize outdoor storage loss.

Remember that the outer 4 inch layer of a 6 foot diameter round bale contains about 25 percent of the total bale volume and is most likely to be damaged by weather if stored improperly or unprotected. Storage losses are usually reduced by approximately two-thirds with indoor storage and by one-half with good plastic covering (i.e. a tarp) outdoors.

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