How Much Does a Bale of Hay Weigh? Rectangular Bales vs Round Bales

Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o… We all know this song too well about the farmer named Old MacDonald, who have lots of animals on his farm. I bet he also has stacks of hay stored but is his bale of hays adequate to sustain the demands of his livestock?

As a rancher like Old MacDonald, knowing how much does a bale of hay weigh is crucial for me to efficiently manage the fodder of my livestock particularly during the winter months where pastures are scant.

So hey, if you want to know how to determine if you have the right amount of fodder for your animals, ponder no more for the essential things that you need to know about hay and the weight of a bale of hay will be discussed here.

Lush pasture is the typical diet for farm animals. However, when there is not enough pasture due to weather or when pasture is too abundant for the well-being of your animal, hay is the perfect feed.

Hay is cut and dried grass, legumes, or other plants which serve as a source of food for grazing animals such as cows, goats, horses, and sheep. Smaller animals like rabbits and guinea pigs may also be fed hay. A satisfactory quality of hay is green and not too coarse.

Hay Categories

1. Grass

Bale of Hay on an old wooden cart in the green garden.

Common grass hays are bluegrass, timothy, orchard grass, bermuda, and brome. In some parts of the country ryegrass, fescue, sudan grass, and reed canary grass are prevalent. Grass hays have low to medium protein content.

Due to its low amino acid and lysine, it is best to combine it into a feeding plan. Compared to other types of hay, grass hays have significantly high fiber content. Timothy, bermuda, and orchard grass have more fiber because they have more stalks.

2. Legume

Alfalfa, soybean, birdsfoot trefoil, cowpeas, lespedeza, vetch, and various types of clover (crimson, ladino, red, alsike) are legumes that are made into hay. Compared to grass hays, legumes are richer in nutrients. It has a slightly greater amount of calcium, vitamin A, and digestible energy.

Alfalfa, a palatable hay, is one of the frequently fed legumes because it is harvested and available in every state of the US. Alfalfa has the same long-strand fiber found in grass, but it has thrice calcium and twice protein content compared to grass.

It is an ideal food for active, lactating, working, and young animals that need more nutritional requirement.

3. Cereal Grain Crops

Bales of hay in a wheat field. Bales of hay rolled and ready to be packed in a farmers field in Summer.

Oat hay and forage hay are cereal grain crops that make excellent hay when cut while still green and before the grain is fully mature. Nitrate poisoning could be a threat if cereal grain hays are harvested after a surge of growth succeeding a drought period.

4. Mixed (Grass and Legume)

To provide the appropriate balance of nutrients and high protein to the diet of your livestock, using both grass and legumes is essential.

The high methionine level of grass hays increases the value of legumes, while the high level of lysine in legumes increases the quality of grass hays, and in effect producing a complementary protein of great quality.

How Much Does a Bale of Hay Weigh?

The weight of a bale of hay varies depending on its density and size. The machine that binds the hay into bales focuses on packing the hay in a specific dimension. It executes this function without much attention to the weight.

The moisture content in each bale of hay also has a significant influence on its ultimate weight. Taking these things into consideration, it is very tough to manufacture bales of consistent weight. Use of a weighing scale is the only method to determine the accurate weight of a bale of hay.

Stacked bales of straw on stubble field

The information provided below is a guideline on how much does a bale of hay weigh depending on its size and dimension. The estimated weight for each bale size and dimension is provided so it is easier to closely determine the weight of each bale of hay.

Rectangular Bales

Size

Dimension

(L x W x H)

Weight

2-Stringed Bale

36 in x 19 in x 16 in

40-75 lbs

3-Stringed Bale

44 in x 22 in x 15 in

100-140 lbs

Half Ton

6 ft x 4 ft x 3 ft

1000 lbs

1 Ton

8 ft x 4 ft x 4 ft

2000 lbs

Round Bales

Size

Dimension

(Width x Height)

Weight

Small

4 ft x 4 ft

400-600 lbs

Medium

5 ft x 4.5 ft

720-950 lbs

Large

5 ft x 6 ft

1270-1700 lbs

Know the Difference: Rectangular Bales vs Round Bales

Round hay bales in a field.

Bales comes in different forms: rectangular and round. Each has its advantage and disadvantage. Below is a comparison of rectangular bales and round bales to help you choose which type of bale will best suit your preference.

Rectangular Bales

  • Could be labor intensive when feeding to livestock
  • Sturdy when stacked; it can be piled on top of each other
  • Easy to transport because of stability
  • Susceptible to spoilage or mold when not stored correctly and stacked in a proper hayrick

Rectangular bales should be kept in a hayshed or covered by tarpaulins to protect it from precipitation.

Round Bales

  • Easier to feed to livestock
  • Difficult to stack because of lack of stability
  • Hard to transport because of the tendency to roll around when using flatbed trucks
  • Due to its tight compression, water is less inclined to permeate into the bale making it more susceptible to spoilage

The use of net wraps on round bales give better protection from weather and humidity.

Conclusion

Determining the weight of a bale of hale could be challenging and confusing for there are a lot of factors to consider such as the type of hay, its size, dimension, and even the moisture content.

Lack of information on how much does a bale of hay weighs could result in procuring not enough feeds, which could be very perilous for your animals during winter. Likewise, you could end up having too much hay as fodder for your livestock which might end up getting spoiled or rotten. 

I hope the information provided in this article about hays made you better equip in efficiently planning and managing the fodders for your livestock. If you have any questions or comments, please comment them below.

Dan Harris
 

Hi. I'm Dan Harris. My wife and I started gardening 5 years ago. Neither one of us had any gardening background but we loved the idea of growing our own organic food. Over the years, our garden has almost doubled in size and I’ve learned a lot from my season’s successes and failures. I’ve been excited to share my own beginning knowledge and special skills with all garden lovers.

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