My husband and I are getting ready to add a horse or two to our family soon, and were looking at different ways to store hay. It seems like the simplest option would be to tarp, but how exactly would one do that?
Do you need to put something under everything besides the pallets?
How large of a tarp would keep enough hay under it through the winter?
Any other ways to store it that may work?
Thanks in advance! :-)
Oh and if this is in the wrong area please move it to where it would fit better.
It really depends on the humidity in your area. Here in humid NC, if you cover hay with a tarp, you'll have moldy hay in no time. We have to store hay in barns/sheds/etc where you have good air flow.
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Up here in northern Alberta we deal with lots of snow and ideally a barn or shed is perfect but sometimes not available. So we use pallets stack the bales on and tarp with bungy cords. Nothing to fancy just make sure the tarp is secured well.as.the.wind can get under it. Also I like to make sure the tarps come down the sides helps keep the snow banks from piling up against your hay!
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It's not really humid here. Is there a certain way to stack the bales to be the most beneficial to keep moisture away from them if there was a particularly muggy day? Or just the overall best way to have them.
I like to have my tarp only come half-way down my stack, if that, to promote air flow. In winter, we don't bother to tarp. It's cold enough here that the snow doesn't melt for 5 solid months. Snow does nothing to hay until it melts. We still go through one tarp per year due to the wind, and that's a hardy black/silver hay tarp - silver side up, of course. Reflect that sun back off my hay!
As long as the farmer has baled correctly, we never get mold. We feed out 10 1000lb bales by the flake every 6 - 8 weeks for our herd of 8 -10.
I sometimes think stacking bales is an art form.
We stack our bales outside using a bale wagon (sometimes called stackliner or bale picker) and end up with a flat topped rectangular shaped stack. We double tarp it and put straps over top the tarps. The tarps to keep rain and snow out; the straps to keep the wind from getting under the tarps and lifting them up like a sail -- once that happens then the grommets and strings get ripped out and the tarp ends up wrecked.
For hand stacking outside, I was taught the following: First row or bottom row of bales goes one way (eg east west direction) then second row goes in opposite direction (eg north south) then third row goes back to original direction and so on. The purpose of this method is to keep the stack tight (to keep rain/snow out) and stable (so it doesn't fall over). Also the bottom row of bales are placed on their edge side to minimize the amount of hay contacting the ground and reducing mold. To finish the stack, you can go the flat top route (in other words just stop when you've gone as high as you want) or you can stagger the bales to make a peak effect like the shape of the roof of a house (that takes about three or four rows; this method is supposed to help shed rain/snow easier but it's been my experience you loose more hay that way unless you tarp).
With regard to mugginess (and since you said you're not really in a high humidity area), if your bales are dry (this is such an important word in the hay bale world) when you stack and tarp them they should survive the occasional day of damper air.
Let me know if anything needs further explanation.
People around my area have been using used billboard signs to cover their hay. Those billboard signs are a real heavy duty canvas that stands up to wind and sun damage pretty well. They also cover a large area of hay too. Maybe check into finding billboard canvas in our area. Its worth the extra bucks if you ask me.
We found out the hard way that covering hay with a tarp will cause it to mold. We didn't lose all the hay just a few bales. We got busy and had a hay barn built.
Voice of experience here. The best way to save your hay is to build a basic hay shed. Your hay stack needs to have the breezes moving around it. I tried various methods of storage and except for this, everything else failed because of lack of allowing air movement. My shed is 12"x16" with a low slope roof because the barn wall was utilized. The high end is about 8.5' high with the low end at 7'. Sheet roof metal was used as it eliminates the cost of sheeting and installs fairly quickly. With standard framing you will want to add bracing board on the diagonal to stiffen it against the wind. You don't want to sheet it in but can use 1" lumber with 4" spacings. This keeps out a surprising amount of weather. On the bottom, lay down a new blue plastic tarp and place two rows of pallets so the opening ends face the prevailing winds. The plastic blocks ground moisture which can result in the loss of the bottom row. One row of pallets isn't enough even with the plastic as moisture moves downward thro the hay as well. Two rows are much better.
Being from rainy, short summer Germany, we faced that problem too. Covering with tarp gets the hay musty, no matter how dry it was baled. We used to build a wood frame the size of the stack and throw tarp over that. Or at least laid 4x4's on top and then covered it with tarp. As long as there is airflow, nothing should happen to the hay. We also would lift the tarp to really let air flow after a rainspell during the day.
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