Tips & Tricks

Basic Rules for Storage of Hay

storage for hay

Hay is an essential part of feeding livestock, and proper storage of hay is crucial for its quality and longevity. Storing hay properly helps to prevent mold, spoilage, and other issues that can impact its nutritional value. In this article, we will discuss different hay storage methods, ideas, and tips to ensure that your hay remains in good condition.

Hay Storage Ideas

Storing hay requires a space that is dry, well-ventilated, and sheltered from the elements. If you have a barn or other structure available, this can provide optimal storage conditions for your hay. Here are some ideas for storing hay in a barn:

Hay Shelter

A hay shelter is an enclosed storage area that can be used to store hay bales. It is typically made of wood, metal, or a combination of the two materials and provides protection from rain, wind, and other elements. A hay shelter also allows for better air circulation and prevents pests from entering the area.

Cover Your Hay With a Tarp 

Covering your hay with a tarp is a simple and effective way to protect it from the elements and keep it in good condition. Hay that is left exposed to rain, snow, and sunlight can quickly lose its nutritional value, develop mold, and become unusable. Remember to choose a heavy-duty tarp, secure it tightly, allow for ventilation, and check it regularly. 

Store Your Hay in an Empty Grain Silo

By storing hay in an empty grain silo, you can provide a secure and protected environment for your hay, even if you do not have a traditional barn or storage building available. Remember to prepare the silo, choose the right size, use a barrier, stack the hay properly, cover the top, and check the silo regularly. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your hay remains fresh and nutritious for your livestock.

Hay Storage Container

A hay storage container is another option for storing hay if you don’t have access to a barn or other enclosed space. Сontainers are a popular option for hay storage because they are durable, weather-resistant, and easy to move if necessary. They come in different sizes, so you can choose one that fits your needs.

How Long Can You Store Hay in a Barn?

The amount of time hay can be stored in a barn depends on the type of hay and conditions inside the barn. In most cases, hay should be harvested and stored as soon as possible after cutting in order to prevent heat damage or mold growth. If it is left too long in the field, it will start to lose its nutritional value.

If hay is stored in a dry and well-ventilated barn, it can typically last for up to 2-3 years without significant loss of quality. However, if the hay is stored in a humid or poorly-ventilated barn, it may begin to mold or spoil more quickly, reducing its shelf life.

Storing Hay Outside without a Barn

Storing hay outside without the protection of a barn may seem daunting, but there are viable options that offer both affordability and convenience. It’s important to take into consideration the environment you live in and the type of hay you plan on storing. Factors such as humidity, temperature, precipitation, and pests should also be taken into account when deciding on a hay storage solution. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a dry location: Look for an area that is well-drained and not prone to flooding. If possible, choose a spot that receives plenty of sunlight and wind, which can help to dry out any moisture that may be present.
  • Elevate the hay: It is important to elevate the hay off the ground to prevent moisture from seeping in from the bottom. You can use pallets, wooden blocks, or even hay bales to create a base for the hay.
  • Cover the hay: Use a tarp or other cover to protect the hay from rain and other elements. Make sure the tarp is securely fastened to prevent it from blowing away in the wind.
  • Stack the hay properly: Stack the hay in neat rows or stacks to prevent it from toppling over. Make sure the stacks are not too high or too wide, as this can make them unstable.
  • Check the hay regularly: It is important to check the hay regularly for signs of moisture or mold. If you notice any problems, move the hay to a different location or take other steps to address the issue.
  • Consider using a hay shed: If you have the space and resources, building a simple hay shed can provide additional protection for your hay.

Overall, storing hay outside without a barn requires careful planning and attention to detail. With the right preparation, however, it is possible to successfully store hay outside and protect it from the elements.

How to Keep Hay Bales from Falling Apart

Hay bales are a great way to store hay for long periods of time, but if not stored properly, the bales can start to break down and lose their efficiency. Here are some tips on how to keep your hay bales from falling apart:

  • Use good quality hay: High-quality hay that has been properly harvested and dried is less likely to fall apart than poor-quality hay. Make sure your hay is fully dry before baling and storing it.
  • Use the right twine: Use high-quality twine that is designed for baling hay. Make sure the twine is tight and secure to hold the hay bale together.
  • Store hay bales properly: Store hay bales in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated area. Make sure the bales are stacked properly and not too high to prevent them from toppling over.
  • Cover the hay bales: Cover the hay bales with a tarp or other cover to protect them from the elements. This can help prevent moisture from seeping into the bales, which can cause them to fall apart.
  • Move hay bales carefully: When moving hay bales, be careful not to drop or throw them, as this can cause the bales to fall apart. Use appropriate equipment, such as a hay elevator or a tractor with a bale spear, to move the bales safely.
  • Check hay bales regularly: Regularly check your hay bales for signs of damage or deterioration. If you notice any problems, take appropriate action to address the issue as soon as possible.

Overall, proper handling and storage techniques can help to prevent hay bales from falling apart and preserve their quality for as long as possible.


Storing hay properly is essential for maintaining its nutritional value and preventing mold and spoilage. Whether you have access to a barn or need to store hay bales outside, there are several hay storage ideas and techniques that can help ensure your hay remains in good condition. Remember to keep hay off the ground, stack it in a pyramid shape, and choose a dry, well-ventilated location for storage. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your livestock has access to high-quality hay throughout the year.


What temperature does hay spoil?

Hay can start to spoil when the temperature rises above 160°F and the humidity is high. The exact temperature at which hay will spoil depends on various factors such as the moisture content of the hay, the type of hay, and the storage conditions.

What is the best moisture for hay?

The best moisture content for hay depends on the type of hay and the storage method. Generally, hay should be harvested and baled when the moisture content is between 15% to 20%. This moisture range is ideal for preventing mold and bacterial growth while allowing the hay to retain its nutrients.

How long does hay need to dry?

In general, hay needs to dry for at least three days after it has been cut and conditioned before it can be baled. During this time, the hay should be spread out in a thin layer to allow for maximum air circulation and to speed up the drying process.

How do you know when hay is dry enough?

Hay that is ready to bale will be a light green or yellow color and have a dry, crisp texture. If the hay is still moist, it will have a darker green color and feel soft and pliable.

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