Hay fire worries... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hay fire worries...

We just bought our first load of hay. So far we have 225 square bales and tomorrow we'll be getting another 75. This is just from the first cut - I may get another 100 bales from the second cut.

So I did a lot of reading about the dangers of hay fires. I read about how your hay should have less than 20% moisture (but how the heck do you measure moisture??? I don't have a chemistry lab in my house...) or use a 10 foot probe to read deep into your hay pile to check the temperature (who has a 10 ft thermometer?).

I know it should be no hotter than 125 F. I do have a long (like 18 inches) thermometer we use for making maple syrup I can stick into a few bales and I was planning on doing that a couple of times a day for the next while.

Our hay does appear very dry, however. Conditions are very, very dry at the moment, so it should have been well-cured in the field before being baled. But since I am stacking some of it in the barn (some is going to an outbuilding, but I am short on space), I am concerned about spontaneous combustion.

Is there anything else I can be doing? Is there another way to tell if your hay is dry/cured enough? Oh, and the horses are never shut in the barn this time of year, so they wouldn't be trapped. We leave the dutch doors of their stalls open, leading out into the paddock, 24/7. Should a fire erupt, they'd be outside anyway. But I'd rather not lose my brand new barn!
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post #2 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 07:27 PM
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Unless you have a reason to worry about it (doesn't seem ready to be baled) then I wouldn't :) Lots of first cut coming in and many farmers do this their entire life as a lively hood. I think ONCE we had hay come in that wasn't quite ready due to weather and the concern was more feeding it to the horses then it randomly exploding! Of course be aware of potential issues, but just because it's this years first cut doesn't mean it's dangerous.
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post #3 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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You know this about me by now Yogiwick - I worry!

No, I don't have any particular reason to be concerned... though it didn't help when the neighbor came over while we were bringing the hay in to tell us this story about how they lost a whole barn to a hay fire. And they were walking up the road when it happened so could see the smoke. Still, by then, there was nothing they could do.

Will be taking the temperature of that hay at least a couple of times a day!
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post #4 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
You know this about me by now Yogiwick - I worry!

No, I don't have any particular reason to be concerned... though it didn't help when the neighbor came over while we were bringing the hay in to tell us this story about how they lost a whole barn to a hay fire. And they were walking up the road when it happened so could see the smoke. Still, by then, there was nothing they could do.

Will be taking the temperature of that hay at least a couple of times a day!
If it gives you peace of mind then by all means go for it!

Around here it's been officially declared a drought so don't need to worry about stuff not drying properly this year! In fact, I'm worried about even getting a second cut, first cut's been brought in but nothing is growing, the fields are the same length as when they were cut! (I do not hay myself, just live in farm country)

One thing to mention though it isn't super relative to you is my mother got some 1st cut from this year for our IR/Cushing horse and he had issues with it so she had to scrounge for last years 1st cut. When it's fresh it's fresh and we are so careful to limit pasture you forget and say "oh it's just hay" (though we are careful with hay too lol, just saying)
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post #5 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 09:00 PM
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We cut and bale our own hay, so I speak from experience. We just brought in second cutting today.

If the hay was put up too damp and starts to get hot, you will know it. It not only feels warm (and you don't need a thermometer to tell you, just stick your hand between bales), but it also smells wrong. We lost a wagonload last year and I knew from the smell before I even got close enough to touch it, and it was in the mow less than 24 hours.

If the hay you have was not recently baled (and I mean like in the last few days, a week at the most), it will be fine.


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post #6 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 09:03 PM
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Guess that drought hasn't gone that far phantom!

I just wanted to add, OP if you are not buying by the ton as you are getting a good bit see if you can as it will be cheaper ("buy in bulk")
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post #7 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Yogiwick View Post
Guess that drought hasn't gone that far phantom!
We are technically in a drought, but have been lucky to get some rain at the critical times.. much better than other places. We already have friends from western NYS who will be buying hay from my BIL (who farms for a living), as nobody local to them has any.

I feel so very blessed to have a full hay mow.
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post #8 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 09:33 PM
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You can smell it when it is too wet. It takes on a slightly wine-y smell.
Break open a couple of bales and make sure they don't feel damp, or warm.
Hay will be green like a grass blade when wet, and less flat and washed out green when dry.
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post #9 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 10:52 PM
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What Phantom. Said.

As long as the hay was put dry, it will be ok. believe me, if you get a damp bale you won't be able to lift it. It should be stacked a little loose so air can flow thru and the hay will be fine.

However, if you live in area with high humidity <------ meaning the dew point consistently stays in 60's. - 70's, you might need to worry about black mold gathering on the hay..

I learned my lesson on that when I Lost about 50 bales of hay that was very dry when it was put up but there was so much humidity hanging in the air, the bales by the window were ruined.

I run barrel fans on my horses but they run longer these last few years that we have "Louisiana style humidity".

I have them on heavy duty outdoor timers and no extension cords.

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post #10 of 22 Old 07-21-2016, 11:42 PM
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Some farmers put salt between the layers when stacking, I am guessing to absorb any moisture?

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