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Feeding round bales, reducing waste?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
    Best way to clean up wasted hay at the end of winter? Not using round bales but boy oh boy do my horses seem to think hay is one giant litterbox. I scoop the poop daily but I've been leaving the hay. Last spring I broke my muck fork trying to clean it up. It takes so many wheelbarrow trips to remove it too! Any better solutions?
    You have to do daily maintenance and adjust what you provide them, and clean up on a daily basis to avoid fork-breaking muck.

    Seems to be a universal rule that if horses have a surplus of hay, they throw a frat party and poop on it all. If the hay is limited, they're much more apt to be respectful and tidy.

    If you can keep hay off the ground and/or bag it, you'll have a lot less waste.

    When I can't/won't bag hay, I make several small piles so the horses are less likely to use it as a luxury toilet. I also put hay on the ground in areas where it's nowhere near a toilet area AND is in an area of the paddock that has thin/poor soil. This way, should piles occur, I can pick them off the top, and use a rake to spread out the rest, so it doesn't become a gloppy mess, but can break down and enrich the soil. Where I live, the soil is very sandy, it will become loam with enough organics added, but in high areas or packed areas, it requires a lot.

    Right now, I'm taking advantage of winter wetness and spreading chaff and remnants of round bales on the paddocks so the weather breaks it down into the soil for spring.
    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


    • #22
      Originally posted by asb_own_me View Post
      Hay Huts paired with HayChix nets. Virtually zero waste.
      This is what I use and I'm fairly happy with it. There's no waste from horses soiling or scattering the hay, because they can't get to it. However, I've found that mine still leave a large amount of every bale, presumably because the hay isn't good enough even though it looks and smells great to me. It can be hard to tell when they have really stopped eating it and it's time to put out a new bale. When I finally cave and decide to put out new hay, I have to clean out a big pile of perfectly-good-looking hay so I can replace it with a new bale that they'll eat about 60% of. It definitely hasn't been a perfect system for me, but it's much easier and cheaper than feeding small square bales daily, so I persist.
      Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


      • #23
        I thought since they insist that hay is the best toilet, maybe letting them have some toilet hay would make them NOT waste the new hay. I guess that was wishful thinking It's lovely hay too. And when it's in their stalls they gobble it up. Somehow the mere act of putting it outside makes it a toilet.
        "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


        • #24
          I use hay huts and a plastic postal palet for the round bale to rest on to keep it off the wet ground. I've used a round bale hay net over the bales, but it didn't appreciably extend the bale enough to make it worth the extra bother for me, so I sold it. Very little waste with the hay huts and it keeps the dominant horses from trying to hog the bales.

          I do believe that both Hay Huts and Bale Barns come with built in hay nets now, or at least as an option.

          We've had both of ours for several years now. Only one has cracked but that's on us as it was being used in the the pasture with the least amount of flat ground and I think the torquing from uneven ground caused it to crack. Won't make that mistake again when we replace it and will keep it on flatter/more even ground. They are expensive initially but well worth the drastic reduction in hay waste over time.

          A friend of mine was recently shopping both and went with the Bale Barn which was a bit more expensive, because it was one piece construction and lighter than the Hay Huts, which came in halves and required being bolted together on level ground. Kind of PITA.
          Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook


          • #25
            I use my home made hay-hut with a small hole hay net on the round bale. There is a floor in the hut (designed to hold a horse if one should climb in). This has worked well for me for many years during NY winters.


            • #26
              I use a bale barn and it's worth every penny. We created a pad of 4 stall mats that the bale sits on, and we flip the bale barn over the top. The mats keep the bale on dry ground, and keeps the horses from creating a muddy mess or frozen hoofprints immediately around the bale.

              When it's time to change out the bales, any hay that's still on the ground inside the bale barn gets pitchforked up (easy to do, thanks to the rubber mats) and piled in a spare stall, to be used when the horses are confined to the barn due to weather. I'd estimate that from a 1,600# roundbale, I have maybe 50-60lb of wastage, despite the bale being out there for a solid 4 weeks since I only have two horses.

              We did not pay extra for the hay net option -- it's very overpriced given how simple it is to just drill some short eye bolts around the interior base of the bale barn and attach your net to those.

              Downside to the bale barn is that it's fugly. There's just no dressing up a big plastic thing. I'm jealous of Trub's homemade one.


              • #27
                My barn has bought a small hole net "bale condom" to fit over a 4x5 round bale- open at the bottom with a weighted rubber ring which fits over the round bale. Bale lasts 2 horses and 2 ponies out 24/7 for 10 days. Horses are barefoot, otherwise the bale would also be in a ring. It would be nice if it was also under a roof but it is cold so hay is not molding.


                • #28
                  Originally posted by demidq View Post
                  My barn has bought a small hole net "bale condom" to fit over a 4x5 round bale- open at the bottom with a weighted rubber ring which fits over the round bale. Bale lasts 2 horses and 2 ponies out 24/7 for 10 days. Horses are barefoot, otherwise the bale would also be in a ring. It would be nice if it was also under a roof but it is cold so hay is not molding.
                  That sounds interesting! Do you know where they got it? Sorry but I don't really want to search "hay bale condom" at work.
                  Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


                  • #29
                    Then again, if you searched "6ft diameter condom" at work you might impress some folks.


                    • #30
                      I make a basic wooden "corral" that is about 2.5 feet -3 ft tall and abou 4.5 x 4.5 on each side. Corners are 4"x4"s and there are 3 rails that are generally deck boards but I have been known to use whatever is floating around the property, We put the round bale on a pallet and then put the corral over the pallet. It doesn't get rid of all the waste but minimizes it. Three horses can go through a big round bale in about 3 weeks with partial turn-out.
                      If we know a really long rain storm or snow storm is coming we throw a tarp or a piece of plywood on the top of the bale to vaguely protect it. These horses are in the barn during those times. At one point we put a round bale in a corral and another on a pallet but tarped. My horse ate a hole through the tarp on the top to start eating the 2nd round bale.
                      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                      • #31
                        Libby2563- check out Sherwood Equine Products. We are up in Ontario, not sure if they ship to US plus they are pretty heavy. You could probably do something like it yourself, not a complicated idea.


                        • #32
                          just do not spend a dime on anything at this time, but rather save them for a hay hut/similar cover!

                          I put off buying one for years because they are so expensive and finally just bought the damn thing this fall. And since that moment I have been kicking myself for not doing it 4 years ago when I started dithering over the cost. In my case this meant I could go from using primarily squares plus a monthly roundbale in pasture during winter to supplement grazing to using primarily roundbales year 'round, so the savings were really significant even with only 2 horses.

                          I have a roundbale set up on a pallet in the dry lot with a couple mats at the feeding holes. I have these really heavy duty industrial strength pallets with tow ropes attached. I just have the hay guy plop them down on the pallet when he delivers, I cover the spares and then drag them with the gator to the new spot when the hut is empty. The pallet really helps, and one day when I feel like dragging a mat around, I'll pick up a mat from tractor supply to put under the pallet to make thorough clean up REALLY easy (but to be fair you really have to clean up a dry lot thoroughly, if this was out in pasture, I'd be less picky)
                          Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by KM-13 View Post

                            wow that is very scary! Thank goodness your horse was okay. That is my worry too with those hay rings
                            If you want one of the "tombstone" ones, check around, there are different styles. With the ones I have, the space between is way too wide for a hoof to get caught and I bury the feet on the bale feeder so they can't get caught in those either
                            Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by KM-13 View Post

                              that’s a great idea, to put a little fence around it to avoid it getting spread everywhere. When you had your bales in nets, did you put anything over top to cover it? I’m wondering how well the bales hold up once they get wet if I don’t cover them.
                              We get winter here. Like butt-freezing, mercury doesn't see the plus side of zero (Celsius) for months winter. The hay gets wet, freezes, and gets eaten.

                              That said, in the 7-8 years my boys have had nets on their round bales (year round) we've lost fewer than half a dozen bales to mold, and those all happened in the hot summer when several days of very hot and humid weather immediately followed a soaking rain.

                              If you put the bales down on end (the same way they come off the baler) instead of knocking them flat on their sides the rain will run off and keep the bale drier as the horses still tend to eat the middle first. This does mean you need something to keep it in place so that it won't roll.


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by demidq View Post
                                Libby2563- check out Sherwood Equine Products. We are up in Ontario, not sure if they ship to US plus they are pretty heavy. You could probably do something like it yourself, not a complicated idea.
                                Lol you weren’t kidding, they literally call it a bale condom! Thank you, it looks pretty cool and like you said, probably not that hard to make. Although they’re actually available on the US Amazon site! I can only imagine what product suggestions Amazon will have for me now that I’ve looked at a bale condom...
                                Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


                                • #36
                                  We just started using hay huts/bale barns. We have two huts and one bale barn. The huts are great, but slightly smaller. Meaning, if you don't line it up just right when you flip it over a new bale, it's a HUGE pain.

                                  The bale barn has the attached net, and we have a Hay Chix net with one of the huts (getting one for the other hut). I will say, the hay chix net is also a pain, but once you figure it out, it's not really that bad.

                                  We go through one bale in about 2-2.5 weeks with 4 horses who do nothing but sit at the bale all day. Very, VERY little waste. We put the bales on a pallet under the hut/barn, and really all I have to do is lift it up and kick away the excess under the net.

                                  They were slightly out of our price range too, but we bit the bullet and bought them anyway (and found the huts used, for super cheap). I'm SO happy we did! They really pay for themselves almost instantly. Can't recommend them enough!


                                  • #37
                                    We use a Hay Hut for 3 horses and absolutely love it. We use a pallet also under it. Our horses are fairly neat, so we don't use a net. My sister uses a Bale Barn which still had 8 windows for eating. Her horses just pull hay out the windows. One of the Bale Barn models comes with a net which would have been great for her horses. She loves the Bale Barn also. Overall, both keep rain and snow off the hay and it's saved a ton of money over square bales. Good luck!


                                    • #38
                                      Just curious, for those who have a Hay Hut and a Bale Barn, how do they compare? My biggest complaint about the Hay Hut is they are large and cumbersome. With a struggle, I can tip one myself but it's much easier with two people. Have heard the Bay Barns are much lighter and easier to flip for just one person. But they also appear to be shorter so wondered if they do still actually clear a large round bale sitting on top of a pallet?
                                      Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by KM-13 View Post
                                        Thanks for the responses! Also meant to ask, how long do round bales typically last for you? The bales I am looking to buy are 4 x 4 if that gives any reference. Trying to decide how much to budget each month for them
                                        Our ~600lb round bale lasts about 5-6 days, with 5 full grown horses on it 24/7. Technically one of the horses doesn't eat much (no teeth/molars) of the hay, so it's more like four horses on it 24/7.

                                        I put a pallet underneath to keep the hay from touching the ground, preserving the bottom portion of the bale. Otherwise, they won't touch it.

                                        I also use a Hay Hut. While it is astronomically expensive ($800) up front, it paid for itself in a matter of months. It's been three years since I bought the hay hut and it significantly cuts down on waste. It's not totally waste free, though our horses are messy. We were feeding from a cattle feeder before (open sides/top) and just swapping to the Hay Hut, I can say we cut down at least 20% of the waste. It's also been a huge time-saver, because we don't have to go out in the bad weather and put a tarp over the hay anymore - it protects against all elements really well.

                                        A hay net over the round bale is the next best step to preventing wastage. It's on my list of things, but it's also expensive up front ($300) plus, we'd be dealing with putting it on which is also a PITA.. I've been looking into solutions like a built-in net that can loop through the Hay Hut.

                                        vxf111 while not feasible for most people, we use a Skidsteer and remove every few months. But yeah... even with a roundbale + haynet, there's waste and it accumulates.. I feel sorry for people doing it by hand, it's a lot of work!! While the skidsteer was out of commission I picked what I could and dragged the rest, which slightly helped, but wasn't a good solution long term.
                                        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by FatCatFarm View Post
                                          Just curious, for those who have a Hay Hut and a Bale Barn, how do they compare? My biggest complaint about the Hay Hut is they are large and cumbersome. With a struggle, I can tip one myself but it's much easier with two people. Have heard the Bay Barns are much lighter and easier to flip for just one person. But they also appear to be shorter so wondered if they do still actually clear a large round bale sitting on top of a pallet?
                                          So I don't have a hay hut but I can say that I selected the Bale Barn based on lots of reviews about the hay hut tending to crack/ get brittle over time, especially at the bolts where the pieces are joined. The one-piece construction of the bale barn is a durability advantage (I believe-- time will tell). Now, this does make it a real pain to transport-- with an 8ft x 8ft x 6ft footprint, it's not going to fit in your horse trailer. I used our 6x10ft flatbed utility trailer, and it took pretty much all of the ratchet straps on my farm to lock it down to my satisfaction. For me the closest dealer was 85miles away, and it was a very windy day. Gotta say, driving 85miles with essentially an 8ft wide giant sail attached to a lightweight trailer wasn't fun. I stayed off the interstate so I could go more slowly if needed and avoid getting pushed around by passing semis. Of course I could have arranged for truck delivery, but I didn't want to add hundreds of dollars to an already expensive purchase. But do keep it in mind, they're not easy to move.

                                          Weight: the bale barn is light enough for me to push around, and when totally empty, I can tip it up on my own. Reality: once you start using it, it won't ever be totally empty. The remainders of the prior bale in the base of the unit will be pushed up against the sides and add to its weight. With some rain getting inside over the few weeks it's out there, and just the reality that the bottom of a roundbale will have *some* rot, that waste hay at the very bottom is not light and fluffy.
                                          With one other person's help, it's a total cinch (so much so that I constantly think geez I could've just done that myself ), but on my own, it's juuuuust beyond my comfort zone to get it tipped over. In a pinch, yeah I could do it, but why risk a back strain. At 52years of age, I gotta start being smart about that crap. If there's no one around to help me do that initial lift, another option is to hook a tow strap onto the metal handle at the top, and pull it over with your ATV or car.
                                          The reverse direction-- tipping it back from its side onto its base--is much easier, I can do that myself without strain.

                                          In the winter when there's snow/frozen mud around the base, you'll want to go around the base with a prybar or shovel to lift it up a little bit--break the seal, if you will. If there's heavy snow, may need to shovel a little path around the base to get that weight off it before trying to lift.

                                          Our bales are *massive* 6-footers, and the bale barn tips back over them without any fussing. When you've got the thing tipped over on its side, just nudge it around so it's positioned right next to the new bale, and tip it back over and poof the bale is covered. While the bale barn is 6ft tall, it's got a sloped roof, so there's not a full 6ft of usable space under it. So, with our 6ft bales, the bale barn ends up hovering in the air about a foot until my horses eat down the bale a bit. Not a problem at all.

                                          Hope this feedback helps! Seriously, I know they're expensive but really it's worth it.
                                          Last edited by HungarianHippo; Jan. 7, 2020, 03:45 PM.