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Hay and worry.

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  • Hay and worry.

    This has been a bad year for hay. The weather was not co-operative for optimum timing. My hay arrived yesterday. Some of the bales were quite heavy and I am worried that they may not be dry enough. My hay is stored in the mow above the stalls. The worry is spontaneous combustion.

    My horses are out all night but I bring them in during the hot afternoons. Now here are my choices. I can sit and stare at my barn all afternoon and not leave the farm. I have the evacuation plan in mind. I could move the horses to my empty barn but that would mean a lot of work as right now there is no bedding in the stalls or I could move them to another field where they have access to shade and not bring them into the barn at all.

    There are four horses, I am old and alone. I will go up to the mow and check all the bales for heat. The bales are all on the floor with only a small section of two rows.

    Please give kind advice as I am worried sick.

  • #2
    Cut them open and spread out as much as possible if they are warm. Put the horses in the field with shade. Best of luck.

    Comment


    • #3
      Def cut some open. I had a delivery of hay that the bales were super heavy. I cut them open- wasn't wet or damp just crazy tightly baled and heavy (I don't like them).

      Definitely cut, space them like FT said. I hate worrying about it too. But you are being proactive and do all you can to put your mind at ease.
      Come to the dark side, we have cookies

      Comment


      • #4
        Use a hay thermometer to check for heat if that wasn’t already the plan. Just feeling the outside may not be as accurate.

        Comment


        • #5
          Could you move the hay to the empty barn you mentioned?
          Did your hayguy put the hay in your mow?
          If so, let him know you're worried & see if he'd move the hay for you.
          Then cut open bales & let them dry.

          I understand that might not be a convenient solution, and I expect additional cost could be involved, at least you'd sleep better.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

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          • #6
            Borrow a hay probe. I say "borrow" because they are expensive to buy ($200). If you want to buy one, go to your local tractor supply store, they will have them, they may be able to rent or lend one to you. They will give you the temperature inside the bale, AND the moisture content. Small squares can have moisture content of about 20% or so, and be OK, because they are small enough to continue to dry out when baled, if stored with air around them (not tightly packed together) for a while. If you find a hot or damp one, cut it open and spread it out so it can dry.
            www.cordovafarm.weebly.com

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            • #7
              I had to cut and spread a whole load the last year I did it at home. It was miserable, but it was absolutely the right choice, they were HOT. You gotta do something or you'll never have a second's peace of mind. At least go up and pull a few from the middle (if they're stacked) and bust them open and feel them up really well.
              It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.

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              • #8
                We single stacked ours cut side up and had hay down the aisle until I was sure they were dry. My farmer tractor reads the moisture content of each bale as it bales so he knows what the moisture is.
                http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                • #9
                  If you can't borrow a hay probe, check with your county ag extension office to have someone check it. Open and spread the heaviest ones, and make sure the rest are stacked loosely. Some people will spread coarse white salt between layers to draw moisture out as well.
                  Leap, and the net will appear

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                  • #10
                    We had the same issue this year. Your hay is already stored so this may not help you now but we simply chucked any suspiciously heavy bales to the side. The rest seemed good and went in the barn. So we have that pile loosely stacked and lightly tarped out on pallets away from the barn to be fed first. No heat but heavy! And last resort we'll cut them if necessary.

                    Can you hire a guy to come in and re-sort? I need to get myself a hay probe.
                    One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
                    William Shakespeare

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you can’t find a hay probe drive a piece of rebar into the centers of a few bales. If I’m recalling correctly the red line danger level is when the center of the bale reaches around 150 F so the end of the rebar will start to feel quite warm if you have a problem brewing. It’s a lo-fi, last ditch, get-out-of the barn warning but better than nothing if nothing better is available.

                      *Adding for future posterity- leave the rebar in the bale for several hours to a day before gauging the heat level, it will take quite a while for the heat to transfer to the rod. Personally I’d just poke it in there and leave it until the bale gets fed.
                      Last edited by Raincityrider; Jul. 31, 2019, 11:26 PM. Reason: Forgot a pretty important detail

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        I only know how to quote one post at a time so I will try to answer collectively. Turns out the hay was dry when baled but there was some rain on the loaded wagons. I actually had to help load them into the barn as no one wants to help with hay anymore. My farmer said this was his last year as it is a thankless job. He himself said there wasn't anything to worry about as they had been on the wagon for three days after cutting. It was his daughter who made me nervous about being wet. I carried some of the heavy bales and they were definitely much larger than the others.

                        I have been watching the barn all day. Gone up many times with a metal probe stabbing almost all the bales. Could not detect any heat on the probe. I can't move the hay as it requires the use of my elevator which I cannot move myself.

                        Horses are out now in the field that has lots of shade. It is my favorite field and it really wasn't ready for the rotation as they had only been off it for two weeks but it is a good 10 acres and the horses are all in good flesh so there should be enough grass for them.

                        One more question how long will it be before I can relax. Never had this problem before and I have been at it for 38 years.

                        Thank you everyone. I always get good information here on Coth which is very much appreciated.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          As far as hiring people to help with hay it has become impossible. Almost all the farms around me are owned by city people. Most of the farmers have died, their kids and grandkids no longer interested in farming. The farmer who has supplied me for many years can no longer find a crew. A friend of mine and neighbor owns a few car dealerships so money is not a problem. He hired ten of his city employees to help with his hay and apparently they all quit and walked out with only half a job done.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by WNT View Post
                            If you can't borrow a hay probe, check with your county ag extension office to have someone check it. Open and spread the heaviest ones, and make sure the rest are stacked loosely. Some people will spread coarse white salt between layers to draw moisture out as well.
                            It is pretty much all one layer except for a few and I have moved them. It is a very large mow and I only got 200 bales. Due to the loss of one horse last fall I had a lot of hay left from last year. It is stacked in one corner 8 rows high.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hay bales on a wagon, rained on need more than a sprinkle to be damaged. The outer bales will protect the lower bales. Using a metal bar to indicate internal heat is a good idea. If I didn't already have thermometers to check my bales on the wagon, I would do the same. Just stabbing the bales isn't enough. The metal has to be left in contact with the bale interior to absorb enough heat. Heat transfer between hay and metal is very poor unless there's free water. Leave the metal rods overnight and check the next day. If they're not hot, you have no problem.
                              Equus makus brokus but happy

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Great advice from everyone, especially cutting the heavy bales open.

                                Heat/humidity prevail where I live until late September. I once lost about 50 bales of hay that were stacked next to a window, to black mold. It helps to heavily sprinkle Kosher salt on hay to help wick moisture -- you could do that to the bales that seem heavier than normal.

                                i also run big barrel fans on the hay. I have the fans on heavy duty outdoor timers. That will only work if you have an electric outlet in the hay mow

                                I hear you on finding help -- or not finding help as the case may be. The three young men who help us with hay all work with DH -- two are go-getters with side jobs of lawn mowing. Imagine that -- three people in my rural Ag county that are willing to stack hay already have jobs. It's disgusting there are so many "holierthanthou" kids who aren't willing to get dirt under their fingernails.

                                i don't know what state you live in but, if I were you, I would start saving money now for next year's hay and also start looking for your new source, since your farmer states he will no longer be haying.

                                I am retired and down to my last two horses (24 & 25). It is almost a relief to know these are my last two as sourcing anything for them that is quality becomes more difficult as time goes on. I spend more money on these last two than I did when my other two were alive and there were four mouths to feed and I have 20+ acres of lush pasture

                                Best wishes to you. I sincerely hope you don't lose any bales from being rained on, when they were on the wagon, but be prepared to have to toss some of those bales.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Cat Tap View Post
                                  As far as hiring people to help with hay it has become impossible. Almost all the farms around me are owned by city people. Most of the farmers have died, their kids and grandkids no longer interested in farming. The farmer who has supplied me for many years can no longer find a crew. A friend of mine and neighbor owns a few car dealerships so money is not a problem. He hired ten of his city employees to help with his hay and apparently they all quit and walked out with only half a job done.
                                  this has been an issue forever, Henry Ford developed the car because he hated farm work. Even when I was a child farmers could not find labor for hay... who in their right mind would want to work in 90 to 100 degree temps with near 100% humidity picking up hundred pound bales of hay in a field to stack on a wagon then unload wagon if a five hundred degree barn for pennies

                                  The hay we buy is produced by commercial growers and we are the first people to actually lay a hand on one of bales as everything to the point of my purchase was handled by a machine (who really did not care about what it was doing)

                                  As for "feeling the heat" of metal rod, I suggest getting a infrared thermometer to measure the heat, at least it is impartial giving an accurate value. Around here in the summer everything is hot to the touch.
                                  Not responsible for typographical errors.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Walkinthewalk I can't throw in the towel yet. I have three horses of my own and one boarder. My horses are 29, 19 and 14. I will have to stay on the farm until the two older ones are gone. The younger one I could take with me and board out. However the idea of living in the city with neighbors scares me. I hate walls and concrete. Would like to retire near a lake or ocean but I am not ready yet.

                                    I will be able to get hay from a professional in the area. He has huge buildings and some kind of indoor dryer. He exports hay to great distances. I am sure it will cost twice as much as I am paying now. I don't mind loosing a few bales I was just worried about spontaneous combustion.

                                    I don't know if this is a good idea but I plan to use BBQ skewers to insert into the bales and leave them in for an extended period.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Clanter I think round bales and large squares are popular because they can be handled by machines. I think most of the land around here is worked by commercial companies. There was an alfalfa field across the road from me. As soon as the hay was baled it was removed by large transport trucks. They then drill planted corn all night. I never saw a person.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Cat Tap- where are you at? maybe someone on here can help you with knowing someone in the area that could help, either with another hay source, or with moving the hay around up in your mow? I've seen people on here be like oh my you are only 20 min away from me I have this this that and the other I can come help you with. Stating your location may end up being a godsend for you!!!

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