Hay bales are a common sight on many farms across Australia and can be a good source of food for animals, should there not be enough pasture to graze. This can be a common issue across warmer parts of the country that are prone to hot weather and lower rainfall.
As a resource that’s paramount to many farmers being able to feed their stock all-year-round, it’s important that hay bales are adequately protected so that they last. There are a couple of common options for storing hay securely, two of these are to either store hay under a tarp, or to store it inside a shed.
While both options have their benefits, just what option is best to ensure the longevity of your hay? Find out more in the blog article below.
Tarp or shed for hay storage?
Both tarps and sheds are commonly used by farmers to protect their hay, and keep it safe and dry. The amount of hay that you will be storing, along with the amount of time that you will need to store if for, are key considerations for the type of cover you will need.
If you’re only going to be storing a small amount of hay for a short period of time then a tarp will suffice in keeping your hay protected from the elements. Tarps are generally cheaper than hay sheds too so can be more cost-effective for farmers that only require a short-term storage solution. It's important to note however that when using a tarp air circulation will be constrained and you run the risk of the plastic cover ‘sweating’ – moisture could result from above and limited evaporation can lead to damaged hay. Because many tarp systems have the hay in contact with the ground damp earth, from dew or rain, can result in nutrients leaching into the soil and even provide the perfect environment for rot to occur.
If you’re wanting to store high volumes of hay for longer periods of time then a hay shed is much more practical. While a hay shed may seem like a big investment, it will more than pay off in the long run. Being able to guarantee the protection of your hay bales from the elements all-year-round will not only save you money in potentially damaged hay, but it will also save you money on potentially lost stock.
Using a shed to keep hay secure
It’s clear that while there are multiple options for hay storage, using a custom-made hay shed is a reliable choice that will provide many long term benefits.
Keep your hay protected all-year-round
A quality hay shed will ensure that your hay is protected all-year-round. Being exposed to harsh weather conditions like sun, wind and rain will not only damage your hay but it can also damage the quality of your hay. Purchasing or making hay can come at a big cost so it’s important that this isn’t ‘money down the drain’ – the best way to ensure this is by having a shed, specifically to store your hay.
Other things that can work alongside your shed to keep hay protected from the elements include:
- Build your shed on raised ground: If you live in an area that’s prone to a lot of rain or heavy rainfall at times, then building a hay shed on raised ground will help in the event of severe weather conditions. Water will flow away from the shed (and your hay)!
- Avoid a roof-only hay shed: While a roof-only hay shed will keep your hay secure, it will not keep it protected from the weather. Depending on your location you may be able to get away with having only one wall in your shed, otherwise we recommend aiming for at least two walls in a hay shed.
- Use a moisture barrier: If your shed doesn’t have a concrete floor then it’s best to lay down a moisture barrier before you start stacking your hay. A moisture barrier helps to ensure that your bales aren’t damaged from unwanted moisture or mould.
A two-sided hay shed on raised ground helps to keep this farmer's hay bales protected from the weather.
Stack your hay correctly for optimum storage
Hay bales need to be stacked so that they’re not only nice and secure, but so that there’s enough airflow to prevent moisture building up. What can help to ensure that hay bales are stacked correctly, is by utilising 8-metre bays in your shed.
8-metre bays are an ideal option for storing hay as this amount of space will allow for approximately three 8 x 4 x 4 bales stacked side by side, in every bay.
Avoid spontaneous combustion of your hay
One of the risks of storing hay on any farm is spontaneous combustion. Spontaneous combustion in hay will generally occur when hay is not properly cured before baling, or not stored to protect it from rain or damp conditions, which means moisture content in the bales is higher than the recommended level. If hay is then stored in high temperatures (which is likely across Australia), and with little airflow, then a fire can occur. Too much moisture in hay is one of the biggest contributors to hay shed fires so should be taken seriously.
When you go to store your hay in a shed, the advice is pretty clear. Store it correctly to ensure that air can circulate around the stacked hay, and that hay is not overly exposed to harsh weather conditions like rain. You should also be monitoring your hay and regularly checking heat levels and moisture content so that spontaneous combustion can be avoided, before it happens.
Get organised for harvest season now!
Harvest season comes around quickly every year so to avoid being caught without the storage that you need, now’s the perfect time to enquire about a hay shed! And even if the time isn't quite right to sell when you get to harvest season, having a quality shed to store your hay in will mean that it's still in great condition when the price is right!
We know that hay sheds can come in various shapes and sizes and that every farmer will have different needs. Our structural steel sheds are custom-made for your requirements. Every structure is also designed to ensure proper air circulation and that hay bales are also protected from ground moisture, rain, and direct heat from the sun. Our hay sheds are made with flexible bays so whether it’s the standard 8-metre bays that you need or something even bigger, we'll work with you to come up with a design that’s just right.
You can learn more about an ABC hay shed and previous shed projects we’ve completed here. Ready to talk about a new hay shed now? Get in touch with us to request a quote.