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Rowzy 06-10-2011 05:33 PM

Feeding round bales?
I have been told before that I should try feeding round hay bales to my horses. I am more than open to the idea - round hay bales sell for approxemently $100-150 a ton ($40 for 800 lbs bale) here while square bales are well over $200 a ton. Plus I like the idea that I could free feed them if I could figure it out or just unroll/fork hay off of it. Im not too worried about moving it around once I get it because I have a tractor that I could probably figure something out with.

However, I only have loft hay storage. I have a 4 stall barn, I use 3 of the stalls and the only one not in use gets wet when it rains (which is always lately). There isn't enough room anywhere else to store any quantity of hay. Is there any way to store round bales in a loft? I wouldn't think so but if I remember correctly the guy that delivered my hay last year said it was possible to use a fork lift to load round bales into a loft. Is this correct?

Left Hand Percherons 06-11-2011 01:38 AM

It can work if you have enough clearance to get them up there. If your tractor has a bucket on it with enough reach, you can remove the bucket and replace it with a bale spear to pick up the round bales. They will also take up 50% more space then the equivalent in small squares. Typically people just store round bales outside. Store them up off the ground on their sides and tarp them. Try it with a couple for the winter and see how they hold up. When you go to feed them, you might need to peel off one to two wraps but the rest of the bale is fine. Rounds can often be cheaper by the ton but mine will eat upwards of 70#/day so it costs me more than feeding small squares.

Rowzy 06-11-2011 02:09 AM

I dont think I would want to store them outside even with a tarp. We get a good amount of rain which means a good amount on fairly unpredictable standing water. Maybe in the summer when it is dry I could store them outside under a tarp. I was think that if I could find somebody selling them close enough I could put one in a stall (the pasture has direct access to the stalls) and see how that works. If it does I could store one or two in the barn isle or off the ground in the empty stall.

My tractor is a small 70s Sears tractor. I'm not sure I would reach the loft and if it did I would be afraid of it tipping at that height with so much weight.

Thank you for the info.
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Beauseant 06-11-2011 05:38 AM

Don't forget to have your horse/s botulism shots up to date.

Iseul 06-11-2011 07:40 AM

We get our cheap round bales (discount price since it's the BO's land but she doesn't bale it) and square bales. For our round bales, we just use the skid-loader with the bucket, have someone roll it into the bucket and have two of us up in the loft to direct the driver and to roll them back to store. We have more room than you would since we have over double your stalls, but the run in would probably split into about 4-5 stalls where the loft I would assume you could fit about 40-50 round bales in your loft if you flipped and manuevered them like we did, lol.
We just roll one off the loft, roll to desired spot, cut the twine, unroll, fork hay into bale feeder or into field, and roll bale back to the desired spot. :p But free-choice is so much easier, lol. Roll bale to desired spot in field (or dump off trailer/truck/skidloader), cut twine, and you're ready to roll, ha.
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Magaidh 06-11-2011 09:11 AM

We feed round bales to ours, and we do not have a tractor. But luckily our "hay guy" is 10 minutes down the road and stores the bales for us. We pick them up six at a time and keep them on the hay trailer, tarped.

Right now we don't feed free-choice as our mares are overweight, but a couple years ago when we were feeding free I would roll out the bale entirely and separate the unrolled hay into small piles throughout the field. Lots of work, but it would last a while and also prevents the whole "standing around with their face in a bale" which I hate! >.<

VelvetsAB 06-11-2011 11:24 AM

We have stored them outside with tarps over the winter with no issue, and we get a lot of fall rain, and a good quantity of snow in the winter. Even the outsides of the bales were fine, except for the ones on the bottom, that had a bit of bad stuff....but they had been placed on the ground.

If you can get them into your loft, then you might want to experiment with a few different ways to place them, so you get the least amount of wasted space.

dee 06-18-2011 01:59 AM


Originally Posted by Beauseant (Post 1062195)
Don't forget to have your horse/s botulism shots up to date.

Didn't know there was a botulism shot. We've been feeding round bales for years with no issues at all. Besides, I was under the impression that botulism was a bacteria that reproduced in an anaerobic environment...but it's been years since I was in school, so I may not be remembering correctly.

maura 06-18-2011 05:54 AM


Botulism is a small risk in all hay, not just round bales, and it comes for small animals/rodents being baled up in the hay. However, in sqaure bales you'll usually find the little critters when you break open the bale. The risk of the horse actually eating the contaminated hay is higher with round bales because it's less likely that you'll see it. The inside of a tightly compacted hay bale can be an anaerobic environment.

Rowzy, I've stored round bales under a tarp without a problem. The really important part is to put pallets, posts, fence rails or something under the round bales to get them off the ground. I, for one, would be afraid of putting them in a loft unless it was a really, really well reinforced loft floor and very, very well ventilated. (We now have a separate storage shed for the round bales, which I love.)

Also we have a 50 hp Ford 3930 with a front end loader that we use to handle the round bales; hubby made a hay spike the fits into the bucket on the loader. The tractor sometimes struggles with an 800# bale on the spike; I wouldn't want to handle the bales with a smaller tractor.

iridehorses 06-18-2011 06:25 AM

I started feeding round bails a few years ago out of cost and convenience. The farmer who worked my field would store it for me at his place and bring one over as I needed it. I'm only feeding 2 horses and a pony so I don't need quite as much as most people (I keep them up in the paddock during the day and feed hay - after the evening feeding, I let them out to pasture).

I store my hay behind the common area in the barn and dole out the amount I want them to share after the morning feeding and then at lunch time. An 800lb round bail lasts me ~2-3 weeks.

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