Proper hay storage is crucial when it comes to ensuring that your horses are fed good-quality hays and minimising hay wastage. If not stored properly, they lose their nutritional value, which can negatively impact your horse’s health and well-being.
Contaminated and mould formation, on the other hand, can result in huge hay wastage, meaning you may lose a large chunk of investment made on buying quality hay for your horses.
Our top five tips to storing hays the right way include:
1. Storing hay on pallets and keep them protected
2. Keeping them away from horses
3. Maximise air circulation
4. Remove mouldy hay
5. Continuously rotating hay stocks
Now let’s have a look at each of these points in detail.
Storing and Protecting Hay
Whether you are keeping hays inside a hay barn or outside in an open space, using pallets is a good idea. Pallets keep the hay away from the ground, protecting them from moisture and providing good airflow, keeping them dry and fresh. It helps prevent mould and ensures that it does not lose crucial nutrients your horses need.
Hay also attracts pests such as mice and rats, contaminating them with their droppings and urine. Make sure you examine them regularly and consider enlisting the help of your pets, such as your dogs and cats, to keep the pests away.
This can be particularly hard to manage if your hays are kept outdoors; hence, we highly recommend storing them inside in a hay barn. If you have no option but to keep them outside, get a good covering such as plastic sheeting and tarps, and be sure to check them often.
Make sure they are sheltered from rain, ground moisture, and excessive sunlight. The hay must be kept dry, so if you live in an area where it rains a lot, it is a good idea to invest in a well-built hay barn.
Hay barns are great investments to keep your hay dry and fresh. Ensure there are no leaking roofs or damaged parts where rainwater can get in and that the building is well ventilated. It is best to invest in a well-built, durable, and high-quality hay barn from the beginning so that you do not encounter any issues.
At Jon William Stables, we have been manufacturing hay barns since 1983, meaning each barn comes with 25 years of solid experience built in. Visit our website to learn more about our hay barns range, prices, and specifications, or why not call us today on 01380 850 965 to discuss your plans with our experts.
Keeping Hay Away from Horses
Storing hay in your horse’s living space is not safe. Firstly, hay is highly flammable, the mouldy hay is also very unhealthy for your horses and can cause several health problems and affect their well-being negatively. They are also highly dusty, which can harm your horse’s respiratory health.
Another problem with large haystacks is that if they are not appropriately stacked, they can fall and cause injury to your or your horses. Ensuring they are stacked and stored away from your horses’ barn will prevent this.
As we mentioned above, air circulation is crucial for hay preservation. It prevents mould and lowers the risk of spontaneous combustion, which is caused due to moisture content in the stored hays and heat production.
When storing away your hays, ensure they are stack for better air circulation. There are several ways you can stack your hay bales, such as a single stack, pyramid stack, and mushroom stack. We suggest pyramid stacking which consists of laying three bays along the bottom and stacking. Here are some other points to keep in mind when stacking hays:
- If storing outside, choose an area with good drainage with no chance of flooding.
- Keep at least 2 feet of space between the roof of your building and the top surface of stacked bales for good circulation.
- Keep a log of your inventory. Even if the hays are stored indoors in good condition, they will eventually lose their nutrients and quality. Keeping a record means you will know which hay bales are the oldest and should be used first. A good tip would be to store your old hay upfront so you can access them easily.
- When stacking, ensure the bottom layer is always wider than the top, with each level stacked with fewer bales. Make sure no bale is hanging over the edge to prevent it from falling.
Remove Mouldy Hay
When there is too much moisture, your hays will most likely mould.
If you do find the mouldy hays, make sure to remove them immediately, and check your storage area and the building to make sure that there are no damages or any other issues that may have caused this.
Sometimes, the problem could be the quality of the hay itself. We suggest buying from a producer who can prove that their hay is of good quality. Check the hay bales thoroughly and ensure that there are no moisture, moulds, and heat inside already.
Continuously Rotating Hay
Continuously rotating and ensuring that the most recently purchased hay is stacked at the back and old at the front will help minimise hay wastage. But make sure you keep an eye on the newer hays stacked at the back, and as mentioned above, make sure to remove any mouldy and contaminated hay before it becomes a bigger issue.
Hay Barns for Effective Hay Storage
Although hay barn can initially seem like a costly investment, we assure you it comes with many benefits such as better feed for your horses, convenient, stable management, and most importantly, minimised hay wastage, resulting in considerable savings.
Jon William Stables supplies a range of high-quality timber hay barns which can be customised to suit your requirements. Download our latest brochure, or contact us on 01380 850 965 to talk to our equestrian building experts.