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Feeding round bales, reducing waste?

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  • appendix100
    replied
    Bale barn or hay hut. Best thing since sliced bread. You can feed large rounds, large squares, or muliple smalls. Has a hay net inside to keep them from pulling out a big wad all at once, & it keeps the hay covered as well so it doesn't get as much snow/rain (some will come in the holes for the horses, but a relatively small amount).

    We currently just put it straight on the ground, but have put pallets down & put the hay on those before dropping the bale barn back over it. Both work well.

    We have fed large rounds since we moved to our current property almost 20 years ago. We have a neighbor that puts the hay up for us for shares, & doesn't have the equipment to do small squares. Until we got the bale barn I hated feeding the rounds. Big giant PTA, with tons of waste trying to fork it into the stalls.

    We put the hay up with the horses in mind, it is premium horse hay even though it is in large rounds. Never had issues w/ mold, poor palability etc. I think that is not a round bale issue, but a haying technique issue.

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  • Seagram
    replied
    My small herd of three usually finish off a round bale in about 10 days. My supplier estimates the bales are probably about #700++ lbs. I don't give them free access, rather I wheelbarrow in hay 3-4 times a day. Took one of my horses a while to realize that it was not a bathroom or a mattress to roll on at first, but now she realizes she better eat it rather than waste it! Not everyone has the time to do this, I realize. I also store most of my bales outside, covered with tarps, due to our rainy falls and snowy winters and lack of storage, and there is usually a layer or two of waste, but the insides are good. I store them on top of pallets, to help prevent the moisture from the ground seeping in and it can be challenging digging them out of the snow at times! But the savings are enormous!

    Leave a comment:


  • HungarianHippo
    replied
    Ditto re: quality. Hay doesn't taste good if it's not baled well, stored well, or the field has unpalatable weeds. All of which would affect small squares the same way.

    Of course your commitment is bigger-- if you have a couple bad squares, they're easy to toss aside.

    But the solution is the same. Get a higher quality source of hay. If you have a good supplier who provides good squares, ask them if they would do the same field in rounds for you. They'll probably jump at the chance since it's more efficient and less costly process for them.

    Leave a comment:


  • TMares
    replied
    Bad round bales is a poor baling, it's got nothing to do with a round bale inherently. I've fed loads of them over the years, no issues b/c my suppliers know how to bale hay.

    Leave a comment:


  • buck22
    replied
    Originally posted by Libby2563 View Post
    I was thinking about this thread while trying to decide whether to buy another roundbale or keep doling out squares as I have been for the past week. I think there are two types of waste to consider: 1) waste due to weather or horses trashing the hay; and 2) waste due to unpalatable hay. You can address the first type with nets and coverings, but not the second. In my experience, a higher proportion of a roundbale is deemed unpalatable by the horses than the average square bale. I
    ^^^ Unpalatable hay isn't a round bale problem, its a hay problem. There's nothing inherently bad about round baling, but it gets a bad rap because buyers automatically dismiss rounds as inferior or "cow quality". Part of what supports the dim view is that round baling, due to the sheer size, is less forgiving of moisture faux paux. It's very possible to have perfectly stunning, premium hay, fresh, clean and sweet to the core. But it's not always easy to find. Generally speaking, farmers with that level of an eye for quality control also prefer to small square as it brings far more money per lb.

    Half of my rounds I store inside, half outside covered. After about 30 days, the outdoor bales lose the very outside layer to dampness, sun damage, and the bottom from wicking up damp, even when elevated. After 30 days, the outer layer becomes more of a crust (for lack of a better word) that protects the hay inside. I'm opening up rounds now that have lived outside in the elements for 5 months, and they are gorgeous inside. Indoor bales keep fine.

    Loosing the outer lap to weather damage is a big loss of hay, but at 1/3 the price of small squares, I can live with it. I just save so much money with rounds.

    BUT, its hard to buy horse-quality rounds that are quality through to the core, even from trustworthy farmers. It's easy for the farmer to unwittingly pick up a damp clump in an otherwise nice bale and ruin it. And its impossible to tell from the outside.

    Not only is finding mold, etc, in the middle of a round distressing, its a huge PITA to dispose of several hundred pounds of hay.

    I only buy my hay freshly baled – most often the day it was baled because the farmer wants it gone. This way I know what the weather was when it was made. I know my farmers too, for instance, one likes to bale a little on the wet side so the hay is 'green', brings more money for bright green grass hay, but is a huge gamble if the weather turns hot and humid. Another bales only when super dry, which is great, but weather doesn't always cooperate so it can be too mature as he waits to cut. A third specialty bales only premium horse-quality rounds, he does it for his MIL's high end dressage barn, but he sells out FAST, better be ready with dollars in your fist and space in your barn on the 5th sunny day. Not easy to do when you have a full time job, travel, etc.

    My strategy, in the end, is to buy from multiple farmers, put up about 70% of my annual hay in rounds, 30% in small squares, and top off with an extra 15% to anticipate for waste. This way my herd gets a variety of forage which I prefer, I have the primary cost savings of rounds, the ease of small squares when in a pinch, and a little extra just in case.

    Buying rounds late in the season is risky imho, but generally, if they are perfectly round (not a flat tire or egg shaped), you can roll them on even ground without rupturing a spinal disk (with effort, I can roll a dry 4x6, ~900#, and I'm petite), and when you slap the bale with your open hand it sounds a bit like a drum, then you're usually ok.

    Leave a comment:


  • FatCatFarm
    replied
    I haven't had any obesity issues with my horses having free choice hay during the winter months. When I was only feeding flakes of hay morning and night, after the horses ran out of hay to eat, they began debarking the trees and I have enough trees that fencing them off is not feasible. They killed quite a few tulip poplars girdling them and even worked on some of the beautiful pin oak trees. Since I started feeding round bales, the horses don't bother the trees. They take breaks as they choose from the round bales to loaf in their shed or nibble on the rye grass or just nap.

    I will say some horses seem to be more prone to going after the trees than others. Fortunately I no longer own any of those. One gelding in particular was terrible. He would knosh on the round bale then go stand under a tree and chew on it and he was in good flesh.

    Feeding square bales/flakes of hay is so labor intensive too. I hope to never have to go back to doing that. I'm happier and my horses are happier.

    Leave a comment:


  • winter
    replied
    I hate round bales but this year I bought some because hay has just become so expensive. They looked good but the quality was just so inconsistent, some had mold in the center where it had percolated through the bale. We forked them over but there was still a lot of waste, from the outside of the bale and the bad parts. I've used tombstone feeders and nets in the past. I have had a horse get trapped in the tombstone with a full bale before. Thankfully we could extract her before she was injured but it put me off those. The big bales nets were an enormous pita to get on the bale and invariably part of the net froze to the ground making it near impossible to move. The poly rings with attached net are easier to use, but horses often just flip it off the bale and eat the whole thing anyhow. I hate the net trend in horsekeeping, I hope it passes soon.

    My preference is for good old fashioned V shaped feeders. Keeps hay off the ground, has a pan to catch the extra bits and it's hard for a boss horse to always guard it if you have two in the field. I also really like the hay basket type things.
    I am not a fan of free choice hay in any situation, you don't know how much your horse is really eating and 99% of the horses on free choice feed (even with nets) are seriously overweight. I were to do it though, it would be in a diller AG feeder. Their big bale feeders are the best design I've seen. I'm about to get a few of their 8' long V shaped feeders with roofs and I'm super excited about those.

    Leave a comment:


  • NotGrandPrixYet
    replied
    Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
    The reason I went with my more open hay feeder is because my herd is not always settled. I have one horse that likes to move everyone around while they eat. The spot they are eating must be the best, etc.
    With a hut where they have to put their head inside and not be able to see what is going on around them I worried about injury and that the low horses would not feel comfortable eating because they feared the pushy horse would sneak up on them.

    I agree NotGrandPrixYet , a feeder like I have works much better with a small hole hay net on the bale.
    This is my situation, too.

    Leave a comment:


  • trubandloki
    replied
    The reason I went with my more open hay feeder is because my herd is not always settled. I have one horse that likes to move everyone around while they eat. The spot they are eating must be the best, etc.
    With a hut where they have to put their head inside and not be able to see what is going on around them I worried about injury and that the low horses would not feel comfortable eating because they feared the pushy horse would sneak up on them.

    I agree NotGrandPrixYet , a feeder like I have works much better with a small hole hay net on the bale.

    Leave a comment:


  • DoodlesMom
    replied
    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?
    We have both. We have pallets under both, without clearance issues with the huts.

    The huts are definitely lighter, but I think ours are slightly misshapen because we got them used. They fit over a round bale, but I have to turn them so they roll onto the seam, making it slightly longer when I flip it back. They are fairly easy to move around and flip over, so if they do get stuck on the bale, it's not a huge issue to finagle them into place.

    The bale barn is quite heavy, but also larger. Definitely harder to flip over by yourself, and to move around if you don't line it up correctly. We moved it on a flatbed trailer, whereas the huts we just took apart and put in a truck bed.

    Leave a comment:


  • TheHunterKid90
    replied
    Originally posted by Libby2563 View Post
    I was thinking about this thread while trying to decide whether to buy another roundbale or keep doling out squares as I have been for the past week. I think there are two types of waste to consider: 1) waste due to weather or horses trashing the hay; and 2) waste due to unpalatable hay. You can address the first type with nets and coverings, but not the second. In my experience, a higher proportion of a roundbale is deemed unpalatable by the horses than the average square bale. It's easy to say, "Just leave it out there until they eat it all," but I'm not sure how realistic that is if they are barely picking at it and you don't want your horses losing weight.

    I ended up with a huge pile of apparently unpalatable hay from my last roundbale, which I gathered up to feed the donkeys, but even they won't eat it. So I'm on the fence about whether the convenience of roundbales outweighs the immense amount of waste I have to contend with, even under ideal conditions (bale on a pallet, in a Hay Chix net, and under a Hay Hut). Granted, I feed in a stonedust dry lot so I have to clean up the hay rather than just leaving it to decompose in the field.



    FWIW, I can flip my Hay Hut myself! I'm 5'6 / 140 lb / average fitness. It's easier with two people of course, but doable with one.

    yes and no. I feed a very good second cutting grass hay round bale in my barn. (Peel it off and fill turn out hay racks with a straw fork. I have gotten one bale in the past five years that was not feedable for horses, it must have come from the edge of the feed because it had a bunch of weeds in it.
    My pasture kept horses are fed first cutting round bales that are also high quality and I haven’t seen a bad or moldy bale.
    The first cutting bales are running $170 a ton. Second cutting $190. In comparison, small squares are running $250-270 a ton. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Leave a comment:


  • dps
    replied
    http://balebarns.com/index.html?gcli...SAAEgKlUvD_BwE

    Comes with a slow feed hay net

    Leave a comment:


  • NotGrandPrixYet
    replied
    Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
    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.
    I bought one like this. However, my mares grab the hay and literally drop it outside of it in piles before they start eating it. I guess I need the hay net.

    Leave a comment:


  • Libby2563
    replied
    I was thinking about this thread while trying to decide whether to buy another roundbale or keep doling out squares as I have been for the past week. I think there are two types of waste to consider: 1) waste due to weather or horses trashing the hay; and 2) waste due to unpalatable hay. You can address the first type with nets and coverings, but not the second. In my experience, a higher proportion of a roundbale is deemed unpalatable by the horses than the average square bale. It's easy to say, "Just leave it out there until they eat it all," but I'm not sure how realistic that is if they are barely picking at it and you don't want your horses losing weight.

    I ended up with a huge pile of apparently unpalatable hay from my last roundbale, which I gathered up to feed the donkeys, but even they won't eat it. So I'm on the fence about whether the convenience of roundbales outweighs the immense amount of waste I have to contend with, even under ideal conditions (bale on a pallet, in a Hay Chix net, and under a Hay Hut). Granted, I feed in a stonedust dry lot so I have to clean up the hay rather than just leaving it to decompose in the field.

    Originally posted by Dressage59 View Post
    With our Hay Hut, I haven't tried flipping it over myself. I get the impression, it's too heavy. I don't think my DH flips it either. Good luck!
    FWIW, I can flip my Hay Hut myself! I'm 5'6 / 140 lb / average fitness. It's easier with two people of course, but doable with one.

    Leave a comment:


  • TheHunterKid90
    replied
    We live with the waste which is really not a lot. I will leave them for maybe 8 hours to “clean up” the scraps once they’ve finished a bale. I don’t starve them, but I don’t let them leave 100lb of hay they’ve deemed not fit for their delicate palliates.

    4x5 round bales. Around 800lb. Usage depends on the weather. When it’s very cold they eat significantly more.
    But on average a herd of 8 goes through a bale in about 4 days, give or take for the cold.

    Every third bale I will put a 3x3x7 bale of alfalfa bale around 700lb out which of course goes faster than the grass hay because it is delicious.

    You have to consider the horses too. 5 yearlings and 3 two year olds eat significantly less than 8 pregnant broodmares who also eat different from 8 riding horses.

    Leave a comment:


  • Dressage59
    replied
    The Bale Barns easily hold a round bale and they are much lighter. My sister usually flips them over herself. When I'm putting a bale out for her, I use the fork spear on the skid steer to life the bale barn moving it over, drop the hay and then use the spear in the hook at the top again to move it over the hay. Either way works great. With our Hay Hut, I haven't tried flipping it over myself. I get the impression, it's too heavy. I don't think my DH flips it either. Good luck!

    Leave a comment:


  • Dressage59
    replied
    Originally posted by HungarianHippo View Post
    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.
    HungarianHippo Absolutely love the idea of putting mats on the ground. Great idea!

    Leave a comment:


  • HungarianHippo
    replied
    ours just has a handle on the very top, so it's not useful for tipping it over by hand (except if you attach a rope and pull it over with a vehicle). I'm guessing that was meant as an attachment point if you want to lift it straight up with a loader.
    Regardless, I haven't had trouble getting a grip on the base even without specific handles. There's a molded lip that sticks out a little bit.

    Leave a comment:


  • FatCatFarm
    replied
    Originally posted by HungarianHippo View Post

    Hope this feedback helps! Seriously, I know they're expensive but really it's worth it.
    Thanks HH, that was helpful. We've got two Hay Huts and only one has cracked and probably our fault from the uneven ground/slope, we've kept it on caused it. Still quite usuable, but when it's time to replace it, may give a BB a go as a bit lighter option. I think I heard they now have handles to make flipping them easier?

    Leave a comment:


  • HungarianHippo
    replied
    Originally posted by beowulf View Post

    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.
    beowulf I can't remember what I paid, but if you google "custom netting", you'll find suppliers who make fishing and sports nets, and they will cut to whatever size you want. I think I paid like $125 or so? Once you have your net, just drill a few holes on each side around the base of your bale cover, and then zip-tie the edges of your net all around the base of the bale cover. When you flip the cover back over a new bale, the net gets pulled down with it, and just naturally drapes itself around the bale, Easy-peasy. You really don't need anything custom-bulit into the bale hut. Just a drill and some zip ties and you're set.

    Leave a comment:

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