(post by Jason) Every summer that I can remember someone I knew lost a barn to hay that heated and started a fire. These fires weren’t mostly caused by lack of knowledge on the part of the farm owner. Most of the barns that burnt were on working farms run by people who had a lifetime of experience at putting up hay. But they guessed wrong about one or more batches and it wound up destroying at least a partial winter’s worth of feed at a minimum.
It’s easy and sometimes very tempting to bale hay too wet, especially if it only lacks a few hours from being truly ready to bale and there is imminent rain in the forecast. I’m guilty of doing so myself. Even though it never did actually catch fire I lost a stack of 90 round bales to heat damage three years ago. We had run out of room in our hay barns and I had this stack under a tarp, and it was my first and last experience using a hay tarp. I probed that stack each and every day and it still surprised me how hot the bales in the center were when I had to tear the stack apart to keep it from burning. Even a heavy dew can keep hay that would otherwise be fit to bale too wet to do so safely for most of a morning, believe it or not.
Given that many of you store and feed hay on your own farms I thought the article from VA Extension below might offer up an excellent refresher course on managing freshly baled and stored hay.
Please read the excellent article below for some tips on how to manage freshly baled and stored forage.
Slinky and Thor
Noble and Lightening
Faune and Flyer
Homer, Apollo and Levendi
Kennedy and Stormy
Clayton and Largo