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How do you store hay when it's 90 degrees and 90% humidity?

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  • How do you store hay when it's 90 degrees and 90% humidity?

    It has rained for a week. In between storms, it shoots up to near 90 degrees. This is the humid Southeast. The hay is molding.

    HOW do you store hay in these conditions? I do have it up off the ground on a wood deck inside a building, but the air is almost pure water.

    Should I put tarps over it in these conditions? Normally I wouldn't because the moisture coming out of the hay would condensate, but maybe that's the lesser evil?

    DH keeps threatening to build a storage shed and air condition it, or at the very least run a dehumidifier. Surely no one does that!
    ... and Patrick

  • #2
    Right now we are low on hay which is our saving grace I think. Lots of space for airflow. We have fans running and they change the air in the loft as well, I would NOT put tarps on, but perhaps restack and add a fan? Your hay sounds like it might not have gotten to the correct moisture level before they baled it, but with this weather, and ours isn't much different, you may just be fighting mother nature.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    • #3
      My barn is in a very wet (swampland) area. The only way I have found to store hay is:
      A shed (enclosed barn loft would be better, but since I do have a shed and I don't have a barn, well...) with a stone floor, then layer of pallets, layer of heavy plastic, another layer of pallets, layer of straw or hay, another sheet of heavy plastic, then a THICK layer (several inches) of straw or hay.
      Then, instead of stacking the bales on their 'sides' like you normally would, I stand the first layer up on their ends. This way, if/when I get flooded, only the bottom flake or two of each bale is ruined but the rest of the bale is deemed perfectly acceptable by my picky eaters. I stack the hay VERY TIGHTLY. If there is a gap anywhere, the hay WILL mold.

      The loose hay or straw on the pallets seems to absorb(? I guess?) the moisture, when I did the same arrangement without it (with the hay directly on either pallets or plastic, the bottom layer got moldy.

      The year I tried stacking it loosely for supposed air flow... lost the whole darn lot of it.


      • #4
        I had a discussion with two different local hay growing farmers Here in humid Southern MD. Both grow large quantites of hay to sell to horse owners. One of the two is also a barn builder and has built a lot of horse barns.

        Both told me to never use plywood for the flooring that your hay would sit on. Planks with small gaps between them will let air move upward and moist air out and down. The barn builder built my barn. I discussed whether to have a lower level hay storage area or a hay loft. He convinced me to go with the loft as the hay will be stay drier up there, further from the ground ans with better air movement all around it. Is it better to not store hay over horses or in the same building as horses, YES. but many of us have the funds for one building. My hay keeps really well in the loft. A few times I bought small loads of "green" hay that needed to dry more. I would spread them out in one layer in the loft, laided out on the cut edges of the bales. They finished drying very well.

        The other hay grower showed me his hay storage barns. He utilized old tobacco barns and new hay barns. Both had raised wooden plank floors. There was a layer of plastic on the ground (under the floors) and a thick layer of rock salt on top of that. Don't ask me how he got the salt under there. Perhaps the planks were'nt nailed down to the beams supporting them? The salt absorbs moisture in wet weather and in our usually dry Fall/Winter weather that moisture evaporates away. This works for him. Probably the plastic/salt layers would last for years.

        In this area there are numerous lumber mills where you can buy rough cut oak and poplar planks. My barn is built from all local hardwoods except for the pressure treat wood that comes in contact with the ground. One benfit of this area is it's cheap hardwood lumber.



        • Original Poster

          I have also been leaving space for airflow... I'll stack it tighter.

          It's not the hay. It's molding from the outside in, which means it's my fault. I learned this from Tamara.

          jump4me, I did buy a layer of 'cheap' (still $7 a bale!) Bermuda hay to use as the bottom layer with rock salt spread on it, and that helped... until this weather! I actually took out the plastic I had underneath the hay as it was pointed out that there is always some moisture coming out of the hay that wants to travel down, and I was trapping it against the plastic. Your method of additional absorbent material fixes that.

          I think ReSomething has a point... at this time of the year, they should be on grass. Maybe next year I'll increase the grass and the pellets-and-senior-feed ration and just not try to feed hay in July. Then when the weather calms down and this summer's cured hay starts flowing south, I can load up again.

          Or perhaps I just won't try to store so much. Despite the occasional concerns of a hay shortage, my feed stores have always managed to have some in stock. Sometimes it's expensive, but so is losing a bunch of bales to mold!

          Thanks for the ideas (and commiseration). I'm ready for July to be over.
          ... and Patrick


          • #6
            I'm in southern Middle Tennessee, so I share the humidity misery

            1. Do not stack the hay tighter. I didn't read each post thoroughly, so I'm not sure where that came from but it's a huge no-no if the bales have moisture in them.

            I've been stacking hay since I was a kid on the dairy farm. Stacking damp hay tight would have got my awrse beat plus grounded off the horses for the rest of the summer.

            You don't have to leave gaping holes but do leave some space.

            2. Kosher salt. Salt will help wick a lot of the moisture.

            Put a heavy layer of Kosher salt not only on the floor under the pallets and ON the pallets, but also sprinkle a generous layer across all the bales before you start your next row.

            Use Kosher salt because it does not have iodine in it.

            3. Put tub fans on heavy duty timers and run the fans directly on the hay for however many days or weeks it takes to finish curing the hay.

            No tarps - that will make things much worse and possibly all that trapped heat could start a fire.

            Hay needs all the air you can get onto it to cure.

            I got lucky this year. I didn't have to run fans, my hay was perfectly cured before I picked it up. I don't even know how the guy got it cut in-between thunderstorms, much less put up and cured and it is great quality mixed grass hay.

            Even at that, when the kids were stacking (330 bales) they took it upon themselves to remind each other to leave some air space. I never said a word, so the universal hay stacking message is "leave a little space between bales"


            • #7
              Originally posted by wsmoak View Post
              I have also been leaving space for airflow... I'll stack it tighter.

              It's not the hay. It's molding from the outside in, which means it's my fault. I learned this from Tamara.


              this is a hard time to keep hay dry...
              blowing wet air on dry hay can't help
              a tarp can't help as it holds the wet in

              the best thing to do is find the inside most storage possible
              and in most cases the hot dry air of the old wood hay lofts is the best choice
              raise it off the floor about 8 inches and blow the fans under the
              gap between the hay and ground

              if your ceiling condenses and drips down on the hay you are also fighting a losing battle
              the best thing is to limp by and wait til the weather breaks and the truly dry air and hay arrives this fall
              Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
              I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


              • #8
                if your ceiling condenses and drips down on the hay you are also fighting a losing battle
                ^^^true true true. I forgot about that because my entire barn ceiling is insulated. Something to remember if the OP's is not, before putting hay up next year


                • #9
                  I feel for you in Columbus, GA. I'm in Tallahassee and my entire hay shed has mildewed.......some areas more than others.

                  It is in a shed, on a concrete floor, with pallets and then hay. However the hay stacked high was all mildewed on the top. Everything the air could touch mildewed. So my only hope would be to try fans.............but it is the AIR that is so wet.

                  To prove that point........I stack hay weekly inside my barn in an open isleway. It is far from where rain could reach it.....and sits on pallets on a concrete floor...........and IT mildewed last week too.

                  It's not just a poorly cured hay, because both my peanut hay AND my coastal have mildew.........

                  I actually tried to pull the best bales from the center of the pile (no visible mildew) and put them in my airconditioned feed room (stacked to the ceiling)

                  My shed has a shingle roof, but non insulated plywood walls.........SO don't think putting a dehumidifier in there would work, as it isn't airtight...........

                  Guess in a perfect world we'd build the hay it's own airconditioned house..........seems to be the only option in this crazy summer rain and humidity............

                  ,.........and they are predicting 80% chance of rain tomorrow, with 70% Saturday.............ugh!
                  www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428


                  • #10
                    We used to put an open bag of charcoal in the cabin of our boat to absorb humidity...wonder if something like that could work.


                    • #11
                      Entirely curious, but how much hay do you all buy and store? 3 months? 6 months? More/less?
                      I haven't (yet) had a problem with any mold, but I've only stored 3 batches worth (3 months' worth each) in south central LA. A friend who lives in west central FL said she just buys hay from the local feed store because she can't store it longer than a couple weeks without molding, and she's lived in that area for years.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by chicamuxen1 View Post
                        Both told me to never use plywood for the flooring that your hay would sit on.
                        Damn. My loft is plywood. Right now there is no hay up there, so what can I do to modify? I am not in a position to refloor the loft... Chances are there will only be hay in the loft in the winter. When humidity isn't so much a problem.


                        • #13
                          For the floor, we've just lined the bottom with bales of inexpensive (by comparison!) hay and then never removed them. That way the bottom bales of the "good" hay are just as good as all the others so no waste. We've never found any kind of flooring to be better than just bales of hay.


                          • #14
                            Concrete is very damp - I don't know why but it really attracts moisture. As for the plywood, I think if it is a loft situation it might be ok, but there is a reason that hay was stored in lofts. Between being high off the ground, older barns have cupolas which helps the circulation, even before fans Although I admit that I live in NH and not the deep south - it gets hot and humid here but not for the weeks at a time you folks get.


                            • #15
                              My loft is plywood floored and I'll put 200 squares up there each Summer. No mold or hay loss despite living in central Alabama. My barn is very...umm, airy, so maybe that makes a difference. When I stack hay I stack it pretty tightly together but leave a vent here and there along the bottom layer...


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by morganpony86 View Post
                                Entirely curious, but how much hay do you all buy and store? 3 months? 6 months? More/less?
                                I am trying to get to the ideal state of buying hay out of the field in the summer and storing it for a year. Without a loft, I don't think it's going to happen.

                                Best I could probably do is find a supplier, pay in advance, and schedule deliveries. But as I only have one horse here at the moment, and a driveway entrance that is impossible for big trucks, that's not likely to work either.
                                ... and Patrick


                                • #17
                                  In Florida where it is always hot and humid.
                                  I don't buy much at a time. Means during the winter I get some crappy hay but at least it doesn't mold.

                                  With 50 or so bales I do have:
                                  Stack on wooden pallets where there are gaps between the slats in the pallet.
                                  Stack (criss cross) with gaps between the columns.
                                  Large fan to blow air across them if they're already damp or getting a bit warm.

                                  An old farmer also mentioned using salt to absorb moisture from the hay - he said just throw it on the hay (spread it out of course). I haven't tried that but would probably work as long as your horses don't mind the taste of salt.
                                  Now in Kentucky


                                  • #18
                                    No one I know here in Ocala stores hay for very long. Maybe a month at most.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by lorilu View Post
                                      No one I know here in Ocala stores hay for very long. Maybe a month at most.
                                      Me too. I pick it up about every two weeks.
                                      Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"