It probably doesn’t come as a shock to horse owners that buying hay in bulk during haymaking season can save some serious money on hay expenses. The problem for most people is having enough storage to facilitate the quantities of hay needed for the year.
The best option for large horse farms is to have a designated open-span machine shed, much like an indoor arena, with large sliding doors or overhead doors at the gable end (to ensure access even during snow season where side doors would be blocked by snow sliding off the roof), and plenty of room to maneuver inside the building. Overhead doors have the advantage of remote operation and are less likely to become frozen to the ground during winter months.
The height of the doors should accommodate large delivery equipment such as tractor-trailers and hay wagons, and be wide enough to allow easy access. Trusses within the structure should be high enough to allow clearance of the delivery vehicles, and if light fixtures are added they should not be suspended too low to limit movement of the equipment.
Standard door heights of 18 feet will accommodate tractor-trailers given the site is level around the structure. Ideally you will have at least one foot of clearance in height and a minimum of two feet of clearance to each side. The addition of a 36” regular sized door is a good idea so you don’t always have to open up the main entrance just to go in the building.
Given the space and financial capability to build a large agricultural structure many horse owners would probably opt to use it for riding rather than hay storage. For many horse owners a building of such a large size is not a viable option and not required. Many horse barn manufacturers will offer smaller structures that may not be clear span, but will provide decent size entry doors to accommodate a tractor and more moderate size equipment.
There are other solutions to hay storage needs that are much more affordable.
The addition of a loft space in a barn can provide space large enough to accommodate a good quantity of hay. For each stall below that houses one horse, the space above can usually provide enough storage for at least a month’s supply of hay, depending on the height of the building and shape of the roof perhaps even more. Gambrel roofs for example will offer more space than an A-frame roof.
Storage of small squares will require use of a conveyor or some serious strength and fitness to manage. Loft space is not useful for the large round or square bales that are becoming increasingly more popular as they are cheaper in general than small squares and require less manpower to move as tractors and skidsters can store and distribute.
For a ground level storage solution a simple and affordable shedrow structure can house both small squares and large bales. The shedrow can be open faced for quick access, though to prevent damage from driving rain/snow the hay may need to be protected with a plastic curtain or large doors.
A run-in shed can also provide a handy storage option. If you opt for a prefabricated model you can even move it around on the property utilizing the large tow hooks and use it as a run-in shed in the summer, when horses use them most, and then back into the yard for winter hay storage.
If you are building a new barn the addition of a large overhang can also provide an affordable storage option for smaller supply needs.
Whatever structure you choose to use for storage here are a few safety tips for hay storage:
- Hay should be cured to less than 14% moisture content to minimize risk of spontaneous combustion.
- Stack small squares in a crisscross layered pattern for stability.
- Store small squares with strings on the vertical side to allow for moisture drainage down through the stack to minimize dusting and fire. This also lessens the likelihood of mice chewing threw the strings.
- Leave an inch gap between bales to allow airflow.
- Ensure space is clean and dry. Remove last years loose hay before restocking with fresh hay to avoid contamination with rodent droppings and mold/dust/moisture.
- Prevent moisture from entering hay from ground surface with plastic covering over concrete or dirt floors. Add a layer of pallets as the base to allow airflow beneath the stack if you have them available.
- For large rounds and square bales be careful is stacking above ground level that stack is secure. Round bales can roll out damaging side walls of the building, and if dropped during removal or stacking these heavy bales may cause injury to the equipment operator if the handling machine does not offer cage protection.
There is no better feeling than having your hay supplies stocked up, especially in times of uncertainty about hay availability and transport. Investment in a good storage solution will enable you to “Buy Hay and Keep It That Way.” https://www.horizonstructures.com/blog/buy-good-hay-keep-it-way
Remember to choose a construction company that can deliver on warranties, offers 3rd party financing options if you need help capitalizing the expense, and provides a wide array of choices in colors and materials used with good craftsmanship. For businesses ask your accountant about the tax deductibility of interest paid on any loans taken, and how you can depreciate the cost of the structure each year.
KINDLY NOTE: This article is available for use in its entirety without edit, in any media format, on condition that credit, 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 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 writer and creative content producer. Ghostwriting, blog services, PR/Marketing specialist. Nikki also produces catalog and website copy, white papers, e-books, corporate brochures, advertising copy, photography, videography for a wide range of businesses.
As a Brit who has called the America home for the past 35 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. Nikki is also an accomplished Grand Prix dressage trainer/competitor, competing at international level and is a highly sought clinician offering clinics worldwide. She has been a horse breeder/importer of warmblood and Iberian 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 training operation in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.