ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Storing Hay for Horses

Updated on February 10, 2019
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is an author, freelance writer, and photographer. She has an AAS degree in equine tech and is a certified instructor.

Square Bales of Hay are Easy to Handle

Square bales in the field ready for pickup
Square bales in the field ready for pickup | Source
Square bales are easy to handle.
Square bales are easy to handle. | Source

Waste Not Want Not

Is hay made of gold these days? Gas prices and drought can skyrocket the cost of feeding horses quality hay. If they haven't done it before, many horse owners plan to buy their hay for the next year early to avoid a winter of paying inflated prices. This can be a good plan only if you have a place to store a large quantity of hay.

You have shopped around for the best quality hay available to feed your horse. It was harvested at the right time, it is leafy, green and smells wonderful. But, you have to store your hay properly to insure it remains good until the last bale is used. Not stored properly, the hay's quality can suffer even to the point of being unfit for use.

To plan for hay storage there are several points to consider: keeping the hay out of the weather, a dry floor surface, blocking sunlight, adequate space, and easy access.

To keep your hay protected from the elements will require a sturdy shelter with a roof that doesn't leak, and good ventilation. It is not recommended that you store hay in the same building that houses the horses, even though it is very tempting to use overhead space as a hayloft. Hay is highly flammable and if stored with too much moisture content it could even spontaneously combust. It is suggested that the stable and hay shelter be separate with at least a fifty-foot buffer zone.

If the storage area is open on the ends, or it's a shed with only a roof, cover the hay with a tarp to keep out the weather and the light. Sunlight will bleach the hay, causing it to lose as much as twenty percent of its nutritional value, especially vitamin A and protein.

When you choose the location where you'll store your hay, keep in mind accessibility. It must be near a road or driveway that a large truck can navigate, with room to back up and turn around. The opening to the shelter must be wide and tall enough for the hay to be unloaded easily. Even with a small load of hay, you will not want to carry it one bale at a time from the truck to the shelter for even a few yards. Even with one horse, if you buy enough hay to last through the winter, it is going to require at least 600 cubic feet per ton. One horse will eat about two tons in six months.

Drainage is another important criteria to consider when choosing the site of your hay shelter. Choose an elevated site to prevent rain or melted snow running into the shelter; getting the hay wet from the bottom of the stack. The hay will act as a wick and draw the moisture up, ruining the whole stack. The floor of the hay storage building can be earthen, but it is best to have a layer of gravel or rock on top of the dirt. Then stack the hay either on pallets or a layer of dry straw. Even a concrete floor draws in moisture, so treat it the same way you would a dirt floor.

Hay bales should be stacked on the sides, with the stems vertical to the ground. That allows better ventilation and reduction of moisture. When stacking the bales leave some "breathing room" to allow it to cure without mildewing or combusting. This is especially true if there is any question that it may have a higher than the recommended 20% moisture.

Round Bales in the Field - Cover with a Tarp or Store under a Shelter


Round Bales

Round bales are often less expensive since they require less labor to produce. If you have the equipment for moving them they can be a good alternative to square bales. Follow the same guidelines for storage as for square bales. Because of their size, and depending on how much you'll be storing, you'll need a larger shelter. An alternative is to cover the stacked bales with large tarps. When used to feed pasture horses it is most ideal to place the round bales under a shelter. A round bale feeder keeps the hay off the ground and reduces waste. .

Now, you can hit the trail and enjoy your horse knowing you have done what is necessary to ensure he will have a high quality food source for months to come, with the primeval sense of satisfaction that your hay barn is full and protected from the elements.

© 2008 Donna Campbell Smith


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • StephenSMcmillan profile image


      9 years ago

      This hub is wonderful, well-written and based on present facts. Thanks

    • wammytk profile image


      12 years ago from Iowa

      I am paying $4.25 for small bales. Have you ever heard of using salt between the layers of hay? Thanks.

    • DonnaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      12 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Thank you. I am glad I am down to two horses. Our pasture, here in Central NC, is up and the only time I give hay is if I keep them inside due to bad weather. Thank goodnes I don't have to hay year around. Its $8/for a small bale.

    • wammytk profile image


      12 years ago from Iowa

      Great hub. I live in Iowa and the price is crazy here also. I feed 7 horses and am horse broke but would not trade them for anything. I already have my hay lined up for next winter and am watching my pasture grow as are the horses. They can hardly wait to get out there and munch on that green pasture. Love your hubs and keep them coming.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)