The trend in hay baling methods across America toward large squares and round bales has many horse owners pondering their horse hay storage solutions. For many folks access to their barn may be limited to smaller equipment and the handling of these large ‘beasts’ of forage pose a sincere set of problems. If you’ve ever tried wrestling a large round bale along a barn aisle or into a field you know that it takes a great deal of team effort without provision of proper handling equipment. The latter can be expensive to acquire and safety training for its use is advised. Of course, it is not kid user-friendly either, so traditional small squares will undoubtedly continue to be used by some horse owners.
As large round bales and squares may provide a cheaper hay source than small squares that are more costly as require so much labor to farm, many horse owners are switching to their use. The acquisition of either type of baled dry hay takes a huge chunk out of the horsekeeping budget, and the provision of an equine hayfeeder can reduce hay costs by as much as 30-40% depending on the type of hay purchased and feeder used, according to a study by the University of Minnesota. Find more information on that here.
Assignment of space to store hay supplies is an important factor in horse barn design. If you expect to continue to purchase small squares, then the addition of a loft space above your barn may be a good option as long as it is well ventilated and designed to withstand the weight of the compressed hay. Old barns were often designed to withstand storage of loose hay that would naturally weigh less per square inch (PSI) than baled hay, so consultation with an engineer is necessary when adding storage above any existing stalls or barn space if the structure did not come pre-designed with a hayloft.
Hay kept above stalls takes more labor to stack than ground level storage, as a conveyor or some serious weightlifting and hay throwing skills will be needed to deliver the hay up top in the mall. Dust and other irritants will necessarily arrive along with the hay and may cause allergic reactions in horses, rodents can find the loft space an attractive home creating another health hazard and of course when you need a bale of hay you either have to carry it downstairs or drop it through a chute or hay drop.
As hay is a fire hazard (especially if not properly stacked string side on the vertical in a cleanly swept dry space, cured to less than 14% moisture and stored in a well-ventilated area), the addition of hay in your horse’s living space may not be desirable.
Alternative smart hay storage solutions must also preserve the integrity of the hay and protect it from heat and moisture and provide necessary ventilation. A storage structure close by but separate to the horse barn, that is readily accessible for a variety of equipment both to deliver the hay and to pull the hay from, is an excellent option and a modular barn building company can easily accommodate the need for a storage building at the same time as a modular barn build.
As round bales are notoriously difficult to store in more than one layer without their rolling against a barn wall and even collapsing an exterior wall, design of the structure must be sturdy and proper methods for safe stacking of round bales should be implemented. It is prudent to invest in the right handling equipment to make the process as safe as possible.
Other hay storage solutions are to leave a stall open-faced in an L-shaped barn, shedrow or center aisle design. This alleviates the labor needed to stack hay above ground level. For the L-shaped barn the hay will need to be protected from driving rain/snow, otherwise the hay will quickly deteriorate in quality.
All hay that sits on the ground needs to be protected from moisture that will be present either in the earth or in a concrete floor. A wooden floor installed as the loft floor, or in an L-shaped, shedrow or center aisle barn for small squares is ideal. For buildings that are designated for hay storage the bottom layer may be compromised if some provision isn’t made to protect it with either with a base of shavings and/or tarps/pallets.
Some smart thinking in your barn design ahead of “ Hey! It’s hay time again,” will save you unnecessary risks and mitigate the amount of labor you need to harvest when you bring in the hay. Hay dealers are increasingly aware of the time and labor they can save moving away from small squares, so it is best to be prepared.
Choose an experienced modular builder for your hay storage solution who will provide plans for permitting certified by an engineer as needed, and don’t be shy to ask for discounts for multiple structure purchases at one time. Larger prefab/modular companies also offer financing and a huge array of choices in low-maintenance building materials and horse friendly functional barn designs.
PLEASE NOTE: This article is available for use in its entirety without edit, in any media format, on condition that credit is given to Horizon Structures Inc., and author Nikki Alvin-Smith as a byline at the beginning of the article publication and Horizon Structures URL address and Nikki Alvin-Smith URL is included. Horizon would appreciate notification of any publication. Kindly contact Horizon Structures for photos to accompany the article.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn and indoor riding arena specialists. Horizon Structures also offers both residential and commercial kennels, coops, multi-use structures and playsets. Please visit https://www.HorizonStructures.com to learn more.
About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there's one thing all horse owners have in common...the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart "horse-friendly" design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses' stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need -
Horizon Structures also sells indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
Horizon Structures LLC, Atglen, PA
Photos are available on request.
About Nikki Alvin-Smith: International published freelance writer and creative content producer. Ghostwriting, blog services, PR/Marketing specialist. Nikki also produces catalog and website copy, white papers, e-books, corporate brochures and advertising copy for a wide range of businesses.
As a Brit who has called the America home for the past 34 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. Nikki is also an accomplished Grand Prix dressage trainer/competitor, competing at international Grand Prix level to scores over 72% and is a highly sought clinician offering clinics worldwide. She has been a horse breeder/importer of warmblood and Baroque breeds for more than 25 years. Together with her husband Paul who is also a Grand Prix trainer, they run Willowview Hill Farm, a private dressage breeding operation and training yard in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.
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