How much does a bale of hay weigh and why do you need to know? Well, if you do know, then buying hay for your horses will become much easier, plus you can better determine inventories on your ranch. But do you know how many bales your animals consume in a week, month, or year? Depending on whether you want to store hay for a while or buy it once every few weeks, it is important to think of those questions. Learn how much a bale of hay weighs and how to get an appropriate, cost-efficient amount of hay for your horses.
When you are thinking about how much hay you need to store, consider how much your animals consume in pounds and not in bales. That is because bales will weigh differently depending on the type of hay and other factors. Besides, the weight of bales determines how many of them you should purchase and what will be the costs or transporting and feeding them. Knowing that you have enough hay to fulfill horses’ dietary needs is necessary for maintaining their optimal health.
What hay categories should you think about when determining the bale weight? Grass hay includes Bermuda, timothy, orchard, brome, and bluegrass, with other types, also found in different parts of the United States. Grass hay is low in protein but rich in fiber, and some types of grass hay have more stalks compared to others, which will impact packing. Legume hay includes alfalfa, clover, soybean, and other types. These are better choices for higher protein, calcium, and vitamin A content. Alfalfa hay is the most popular and the most palatable among the types of legume hay. Hay is also made from cereal grain crops cut before their maturity.
Any of these types of hay can be packed into bales. Their exact weight will depend on their different sizes, densities, and other factors. However, a baler does not pack bales by pounds, but rather by dimensions, so you will need to weigh the bale to know how many pounds are in it using a weighing scale.
So, how much does a bale of hay weigh? A bale’s weight depends on its size and density. If you are buying hay in round bales, then its size will be described in bale width by bale height. For example, purchasing a 6 x 7 feet bale means it is 6 feet wide and 7 feet in diameter. Of course, large bales will weigh more than smaller ones, but the difference of even 1 foot adds much more weight than one would imagine.
Bale density also matters. It depends on the compression and can differ depending on the producer and equipment. Typically, compression is something that the producer has control over. Usually, bale density is 9-12 pounds per cubic foot. Apart from that, bale weight is also impacted by factors such as moisture, maturity, time of sale, and model of the baler. The moisture of forage does not add a tremendous impact unless hay is too wet or too dry. When you are purchasing a wrapped bale, it can have between 30 and 60 percent or even more moisture. If you have concerns about moisture, you can always use a test to check it.
There is also a difference in bale weight across various types of hay. If you compare grass hay and legume hay bales, the latter are usually heavier, even if they are the same size. Legumes are denser, which is why they are more substantial. Then, what is the role of the time of sale in this? Firstly, if you buy hay right from the field, it is more likely to be denser and moist compared to bales that stayed in the storage for some time. Apart from that, storing bales leads to loss of nutrition over time, which is especially significant in the first few months.
Mature hay also results in lighter and less dense bales because plants tend to have more stems than leaves, and it becomes harder to pack them tightly. But for you as a horse owner, it is better to buy a bale that was packed as tight as possible. This way, one bale can be quite heavy, weighing around 140 pounds or even more. Packing will affect the weight, and you can also choose between round and square bales.
Why do bales come in two shapes, square and round? Each of those has its own benefits and downsides. Square bales are easy to store and transport because of their compact shape. However, they need extra careful storage because they tend to get moldy faster than round-shaped hay bales. Round bales are easy to feed. But they are hard to store and transport, take a lot of space, and easy to spoil.
When you are not sure how to best store your hay, know that square bales are best when placed in a shack and covered with tarps. At the same time, round bales can be protected with net wraps. Square bales are more difficult to feed to horses. But they are sturdy and easy to stack on top of each other. Round bales, on the other hand, cannot be stacked because of their shape. They also roll around a lot during transportation.
Ranchers usually do not know how much does a bale of hay weighs. However, it is important to know in order to better manage your ranch, especially in the winter, when pasture is not available. Now that you know how many factors play a role in bale weight consider the dietary needs of your horses. Then, estimate how much hay they will need. Whether you are buying hay to last over several weeks or to store it for a year or longer, this information will be helpful for you.