Need to keep my hay fresh, outside . . .

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by chickenwhisperer, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. chickenwhisperer

    chickenwhisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    927
    1
    159
    May 29, 2007
    Chicken Country, U S A
    So I found some really nice hay today, its a combo of orchard grass, rye, and timothy, 2nd cut and nice and green still, but dry.
    I can feel the stems and such, and they are just the perfect texture.

    I feed hay to my rabbits . . . no alfy or other legumes.

    The bales were so nice and fresh, I had to get 2 just to make sure I had it, and at 6$ a bale, how could I not get extra . . .
    Then when I told the guy what it was for and about what I do, he seen my ad on CL, he offered me 2 more FREE bales!!!

    So, my problem is that I only feed the hay to my rabbits(rescues off CL) and theres is only 10 of them now.
    I have enough hay to last me a year or 2 for these rabbits.

    I dont have indoor storage for it, as the garage is out front and a very long ways away from the "barnyard".
    My plan is to get myself a clean pallet or 2 and store the hay up off the ground, and possibly, well almost certainly, cover it with a tarp to protect from the chickens and inevitable rain.

    Is that all I can do???
    I figure its not wise to completelty wrap the hay in the tarp, but it should breathe and have access to air.
    I found a spot in my yard that usually stays fairly out of the rain and wind.

    I get requests to take in more rabbits almost every day, right now I am full and cant take any rabbits that dont come with everything.
    I ask everyone I see that has an old hutch or apropriate cage on CL to donate it, sometimes I get lucky.
    Some really nice people have helped me continue to be able to do this, and I have hooked up with a nice girl who has an affiliation to an official rabbit rescue, I have alwys been fortunate enought to find good homes for my bunnies with my friends or their wider circles of friends and so on.

    So anyways, how do I keep this hay for the next year or so and keep it as fresh and good as it is now so I can make the most use out of an excellent donation, Id hatefor it to get wasted in 6 months . . .
     
  2. fowler_chick

    fowler_chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    562
    0
    149
    Feb 8, 2009
    South Western Kansas
    hay doesnt lose it's nutrition value after a year. we store ours in the barn, if i have over order the extrea is left out side under a tarp.
     
  3. Mrs. Feathers

    Mrs. Feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    743
    1
    131
    Apr 2, 2010
    I have a rescue bunny and love her to bits. What a nice find with the hay!
    My hay storage experience is from my horses as I only keep small amounts now for my one bun ...but same thing kinda....
    The main things to protect from are dampness (causes mold growth and mold spores are not good for bunnies) and heat/sunlight (ages the hay early). We just kept our hay until the next haying season as we cut our own fields(about 10 months) then it went for mulch/compost not sure about keeping it longer but others may have advice on that. Keeping it off the ground is important. When covering it just make sure it is ventilated without allowing moisture to get in. You also want to use a material that does not create condensation (i.e. plastic is not good if condensation forms). I used pallates and a tarp when I had to keep it outdoors and that seemed to work okay. Maybe you could keep a small amount outside and store the back up in your garage?
     
  4. Muggsmagee

    Muggsmagee Menagerie Mama

    4,493
    15
    236
    Dec 15, 2009
    Central NY
    I can't believe it costs $6 a bale! Where we are, we got 30 bales of 2nd cut orchard, timothy and (I'm drawing a blank) for $75.

    We have to put our extra hay outside, on pallets, under tarps...and realize we are more likely to lose it, than use it. [​IMG]

    If it gets wet...forget it. Mold is an enemy! My understanding is if it is dry it is fine...for over a year, but not sure passed the 2 year mark.
     
  5. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    4,654
    27
    251
    Jun 15, 2008
    Hay does lose a lot of nutrition by a year. After about 4months it starts to break down the fat soluable vitamins like E and A. After 6months the fiber itself can start to become compromised. The nutrition classes I took at college did not suggest storing hay beyond one year if under close to ideal conditions. If it is exposed to sunlight and moisture it will start to brown within months and will lose nutrition a lot faster. However I don't see how you are going to have 4 bales for longer than a year unless you aren't feeding unlimited hay which is highly suggested. I got 2 good squares less than a month ago and my 6 mini rex have eaten about 1/4th of one.

    The ideal thing to do would be to put them in the garage and move a bale or half a bale over near the rabbits as needed. Tarping it can work for a few months but personally after having done it a few times we would never do it again for anything except cattle. It's hard not to risk damage to the hay by the weather. If your tarp is too tight heat from the sunlight will hasten the breakdown of your bales and increase the chances for mold if moisture is present. If you don't tarp it tight enough a good storm will dampen the bales. Indoors is the best place for hay that you need to maintain the quality on such as for rabbits, horses, and goats. Anything else and I would not keep it as long (maybe 6-8months) and I would make sure to thoroughly inspect it every time you feed some out.

    A small amount of hay is actually best stored in cardboard boxes. They breathe just enough while keeping sunlight out. When I was doing guinea pig rescue I kept large shipping boxes and appliance boxes on hand to break bales down in to for storage. They also make bale covers to protect both the bale and the surface it's setting on from getting bits of hay while still allowing air flow. Too little air flow will result in mold unless the climate is very dry or the hay has been baked by the sun and turned brown.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  6. therealsilkiechick

    therealsilkiechick ShowGirl Queen

    Jul 18, 2007
    Northwestern, pa
    wow, our hay here costs anywhere from $2- $3.50 a square bale and huge round bales r about $25 here i think was on signs i saw. it is cheaper to get it from the farmers than from the feed stores but man i've never see hay sell for more than $4 for regular bales.
     
  7. geebs

    geebs Lovin' the Lowriders!

    4,800
    14
    231
    Sep 28, 2008
    How I would store my hay outside... I would put plastic or other moisture barrier down... a pallet on top of that then then big tarp that wraps up and over the top of the whole pile and all the way around.... I would make sure that the water rolls off and woudl probalby have a second tarp on top...The hay does not need to breath if it is put up dry... (keep it dry) Always tarp your hay... It keeps birds from manuring in it..(that can cause all kinds of diseases.
     
  8. Horsefly

    Horsefly Chillin' With My Peeps

    327
    1
    121
    Jan 11, 2010
    Louisiana
    Wow I wish my hay was as cheap as all yalls. Around here we pay $8.50 a bale and it usually goes up in the winter. I mean it's dead grass! All I can tell you is keep your hay dry, onces it's wet forget it. It's really hard for me to keep it dry because our humidity is always really high. So keep it off the ground and covered well. We have put whole bales in those large plastic storage containers before and that works really well keeping it fresh. And seeing as you only have a few bales I think that may be a good option for you.
     
  9. fancy

    fancy Out Of The Brooder

    91
    0
    29
    Aug 13, 2010
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Yikes! For hay like that here in sunny south florida, it would cost anywhere from 15-20 dollars a bale (about 70 pounders).

    At that price you wouldn't dream of putting it outside!
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    WOW!!! How in the world can you afford to buy hay in FL????? I'd never keep livestock if it were that expensive! Hay here is anywhere from $2-$4.50 a bale.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by