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I have round bale envy...

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  • I have round bale envy...

    Every year I'm envious of those who put up rounds for their horses... the cost savings and what appears to be a big time saver too.

    My hay farmer does rounds of great quality horse hay, in addition to small squares each year. Each year I'm tempted to try, but I have no farm equipment or tractor, I would be managing all this by hand ... so each year I get skeered and back out of the idea.

    This year the temptation of cost savings is *really* tempting, but I have friends saying its not worth the hassle, that round bales mold up too fast. Please help me figure out if I can indeed pull this off, or if its a hugely bad idea.

    I believe the rounds are 600#.

    I pick up my own hay with a uhaul box truck, usually a 24', holds about 120 50# squares. If the farmer is willing to load up a few rounds for me (I'm thinking 4), is it feasible that I could roll these off the truck myself? I'm thinking backing the truck right up to where I'd be storing the bales and rolling them right off.

    Are they going to bounce and flop over on their sides? Do they fall over easily? I'd be royally screwed if that happened

    All things being equal, are round bales generally wetter than small squares? Can they be stored like squares or do they need significantly more air circulation? I have two barns I put hay up in... one has a low ceiling and even though its 24x14 I can only fit 125 squares in it, I think it would be ideal for rounds but it doesn't have great air circulation (decent, squares do fine in it). I might be able to open up one wall though.

    To make the hassle worth the $avings I'd like to put up 12 rounds for the year and intend on feeding them all winter into spring. I'd be pulling off hanks to feed daily, not setting it out for the horses to eat on.

    Any advice you have to share is GREATLY appreciated. I have zero experience with rounds and I feel like I might be biting off more than I can chew. I'm so terrified to go through all this hassle only to have them mold up on me.

    Thank you!
    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

  • #2
    Rounds roll a lot more easily if they're net-wrapped, as opposed to twine-wrapped. If you must wrestle twine-wrapped, make sure they got 'em tight and used enough twine: the only bales I haven't been able to move have been the floppy, loose round bales. Get a friend to help. Two adults can usually roll (and flip) a tight round bale. If you do run into problems, a stout board and block works fine as a lever.

    We store ours in the hay mow, just like squares, but up on pallets. That's probably not necessary, since the squares are just fine without. It's easy to peel off and feed with a pitchfork.

    Re: 'wetter'. Make sure you buy the hay from someone who is reputable and who spent the time and effort to get the hay good and dry before baling. A properly-made round bale should be no different to store than good squares. Do make sure you leave a bit of breathing room around each bale for air circulation, though, just in case (and so you can walk through to check).
    ---------------------------

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thank you so much! They are net wrapped.

      Another question...

      Can I store them in a hay barn flopped over on their sides and pile squares on top of them? My hay "tent" has better air circulation, but I have great head room and can stack 7 high, I hate to give up that prime realestate for rounds, but if I lay them on their sides on pallets, can I stack squares up on top? Will it "breathe" upwards the same as squares?

      Thank you!
      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

      Comment


      • #4
        As you know, I do round bales. Last year my farmer's usual 600-700lb bales just ended up really, really crappy for reasons not of his doing, so I had to find another source.

        Thankfully there is a guy not too much farther (my regular guy is literally a mile down the road, new guy about 4). He does 1000lb bales.

        We don't have room to store more than about 5 of the smaller bales, and 4 of the bigger ones. All bales get loaded into my F250, 2 at a time.

        I drive home, and with hub's help (but if the smaller ones are put on right, I can usually do it myself), we roll them off the truck right at the barn, roll them into the barn, and there the stay.

        Twice a day I peel off hay and put it in the pasture.

        The hay should have been cut/dried/baled/stored just like your squares - properly for horses LOL Mine are stored in the farmers' barns on pallets - dirt floor for the regular guy, gravel for the new guy.

        Netted or twined doesn't make too much difference in how they roll, IME, rather, how they've been stored. Regular guy does twine, new guy does nets. I got a few netted bales that ended up smooshed against another bale, leaving a flat side. Mr JB and I had to give them a good roll to get them over the flat side LOL But absolutely, if they are bound with twine, it's got to be tight, and that's a factor of the baler setting. Nothing worse than rolling a twine-wrapped bale that's unrolling along the way LOLOL

        If you have the space to store them, DO IT. Store them on their side so you can move them around if you need to, and you CAN by yourself to some degree, especially "just" 600lb. If I can scootch a 1000lb on it's flat side across a concrete floor a bit, you can maneuver a 600lb bale on it's round side
        ______________________________
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          I was hoping you'd respond

          So, when you roll the bale off your truck, does it land with a thud and stay upright? I'm curious how tame these things are, I'm having visions of me dropping it off the truck and it going bounce-bounce-splat and then I'm skee-roo'd or finding a slight grade I didn't know existed and taking off mowing everything in its path down.

          The SO is one of the people who thinks this is a horrible idea and he's convinced its going to roll out of control and I'm somehow going to end up underneath the thing He is NOT boosting my confidence.

          You otoh are though, thank you!!!!
          Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

          Comment


          • #6
            Yep, with very very few exceptions it stays on its side. The key is to get it to come off the tailgate slowly - we pushed one too hard and it rolled and bounced and came into it's flat side If you are afraid it might roll too much or fall over, you could roll it off right into the barn wall, just enough space between the tailgate and the barn so it just...plops.

            do things go wrong? Yep - it's horses after all

            We did get one of the first 1000lb bales stuck on the truck because it was so tight against the cab we had no leverage. I learned at that point to lay a long rope on the bed, lengthwise, end coming up over the cab, to the bale would be put on it. Then when we needed to get it off, one of us would hold the bottom of the rope while the other pulled the top, and we literally pulled-rolled it off that way, instead of pushing. THAT'S when you gotta get out of the way

            They ARE heavy, but heavy things don't tend to get going fast very quickly, so you're good
            ______________________________
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

            Comment


            • #7
              We feed rounds in the pasture. My dad puts up smaller rounds,probably about 500lbs, and loads them on my truck 2 at a time. I turn off the fence, drive right up to it, let down the tailgate, and push the back one out and take off the twine. 3 horse and 2 ponys finish off a bale in about 5-7 days, then I do the same with 2nd bale.
              I have needed my truck while the 2nd bale is still onboard, I just pushed it off in the barn and then rolled it out to the pasture when I needed it. Luckily the pasture is slightly downhill from the barn. It rolled easily once started.
              I keep squares on hand for rainy times, but have been thinking about just keeping an open round in the barn to fork off of when rain is in the forecast.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Awesome tip! I can see one getting wedged into a corner in the box van. Thank you SO much!
                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Keep in mind some of our sticky issues have to do with the immovable gooseneck hitch ball in the middle of the truck bed LOLOL

                  Another trick to getting a bale unstuck from the corner/back is to back up and slam on the brakes, particularly if you can do it back up downhill.
                  ______________________________
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My hay man delivers 1200 lb. round bales, rolls them off his flat bed under my hay sheds in the pasture. They do sometimes have to be rolled a little, no problem for these brawny guys. My horses can gather round and eat hay that stays dry. Surprisingly, they waste very little.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Well, I only have my own brawn to count on but I am encouraged that its seeming very doable. Thank you so much, and thank you for the great tips!!
                      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Some hay guys will deliver. MY Bo's delivers free so long as we are getting two or more. We put ours in the field and order more as needed. We're regulars so he calls us to let us knw if supplies are running low and will save some for us. Eliminates the need for storage and pickup. Most pastures have two horses on a roll and they last about two weeks. Paddocks with one horse will last longer (depeding on the horse and how much grass they have). When they're available, we sometimes get half rolls for the slow eating singles.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It would have to be a HUGE difference in price for me to pull hay off a round bale daily. The advantage to round bales is dropping the whole darn thing in the field and not having to haul hay out daily. Not to mention we don't even have to touch the bale except to cut and pull strings off. Beats the hell out of stacking wagons and putting squares up in 100 degree heat. Anymore we just put up enough squares (plus 200 or so just in case)to feed the inside horses. All the outside critters get rounds. Our rounds are stored outside, uncovered, in rows with the cut edges tight together. The outsides get nasty, but my horses won't eat the yucky outside. Just like squares, if it wasn't too wet when it was rolled, it shouldn't get moldy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I have all the same problems you do with no equipment plus I have a small property with no storage. It's not even possible to get a big truck in my driveway or through my gate.

                            I found someone who will deliver one bale at a time, in the back of a pick up truck, which will fit through my gate. We net it as it rolls off the truck and under the roof of my barn (on a concrete pad).

                            The barn roof keeps it mostly dry. The net eliminates waste.

                            Round bales are expensive here (all hay is); but I think this is the most economical and easiest way to keep hay in front of them.
                            I have a Fjord! Life With Oden

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by shakeytails View Post
                              It would have to be a HUGE difference in price for me to pull hay off a round bale daily.
                              If I could put up only rounds, it would cut my hay bill by 75%.

                              There is no option of delivery though. Very few people do rounds or giant squares in my immediate area, most people are like me with a couple of horses in the back yard (though I board in someone else's back yard) and no need - no to mention no room - for heavy equipment.

                              Rounds in my area have the reputation of being "the stuff that was too wet to make a square bale out of", the money is clearly in small squares, so rounds are usually thought of as cow hay. I happen to know one farmer though that does do lovely rounds of good horse hay, he only does a few.

                              If I could figure a way to store 10 or so, I'd save nearly 50% on my annual hay bill.
                              Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I buy about 40, 900-1,100 lb rounds, delivered straight from the field and we put them up in the hay mow. More go in the pole barn for the cowz. As they get heavier, how they're made and tied makes a huge difference for how round and rollable they stay. I can muscle a 500-600 lb bale pretty much however it's made (well, except for the one big, fluffy bale of orchard without enough twine I got one year. I was putting those up alone when one tipped over and exploded. It took rachet straps squishing it back together, lots of cussing, and the one of my boarders arriving as I was nearly in tears of frustration to get that one back on edge...)

                                You should be able to guide the smaller bales and, if one does fall over, two adults can generally stand one back up. However, hay *does* bounce and roll (tie up the dog, lock up the cats, chickens, and anything else that might try to get squished) and has been known to run off down hills...and then fall over.

                                Some people store rbs flipped flat side down. I don't buy hay from them, as I've found it gets really musty--even the ones on top of the stack. Rbs do waste a LOT of space if you don't stack them or pack them tightly, but the results are a lot better.
                                ---------------------------

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Voice of dissent here...
                                  I too fell for the lure of the cheaper round bales.
                                  They are a pain in the ass to move, to pull hay off of (be prepared to get covered in hay), and to gauge how much hay you are feeding.
                                  Also, despite the fact that my friend purchased lovely round bales from Farmer Ted, half of the ones he sold me have turned out to be moldy inside.
                                  Now I have the unenviable job of trying to get rid of opened moldy round bales!!

                                  I cannot wait to get these nasty heavy things out of my barn and get some good squares in there!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I don't get covered in hay. At all. My bales sit on the flat side when I'm ready to start on them. I peel hay off with a pitchfork and pack it in the wheelbarrow.

                                    I get MORE hay on me by pulling square bales off the top of a stack

                                    I've had to deal with disposal of a 600lb bale that ended up being crap, but fortunately I can just wrap twine back around it and roll it out the back of the barn to my compost pile. If the hay has to physically vacate the property, that's a huge pita.

                                    You can end up with a ton of small squares that are/go bad just the same as a couple of big rounds.

                                    Moldy hay inside a round is a function of the drying process - it would have been the same if they'd been small squares.
                                    ______________________________
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      When I had more horses, I fed rounds in the pasture. My hay guy usually has hay available all winter...if it looks like he's getting low, I prepay and he holds them for me. I pick up one at a time, load upright and just push off the back of the truck in the pasture. Unless you're on a hill, it's not a problem.

                                      This year, I'm down to two horse, one is 30 and really not able to eat hay, so I'll be using square bales.

                                      Although...New Vocations has a beautiful horse going up on the website...Advice, a Derby contender. I keep telling myself, no more horses, no more horses. $700 adoption fee...take a look.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                                        When I had more horses, I fed rounds in the pasture. My hay guy usually has hay available all winter...if it looks like he's getting low, I prepay and he holds them for me. I pick up one at a time, load upright and just push off the back of the truck in the pasture. Unless you're on a hill, it's not a problem.

                                        This year, I'm down to two horse, one is 30 and really not able to eat hay, so I'll be using square bales.

                                        Although...New Vocations has a beautiful horse going up on the website...Advice, a Derby contender. I keep telling myself, no more horses, no more horses. $700 adoption fee...take a look.
                                        lol: Take a look? I think you need him and you should take a look?! C'mon, you know you want him.
                                        www.Somermistfarm.com
                                        Quality Hunter Ponies

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