The Hay Trial

March 14, 2015

This winter I decided to do a round bale trial.  I wanted to see what the cost difference would be compared to square bales, and what the difference in work would be.  Below is my documentation of the experiment.

Friday January 30th

Two horse quality orchard grass round bales are delivered.  $50/ea, clean, dry, net wrapped and stored indoors.


Saturday January 31st

We moved some of the wood in the woodshed so one of the round bales would fit inside.  This area is where I normally store about ten bales for easy use along with some buckets, halters and such.  We wrestled one of the round bales into the shed.  The second one we got up on a pallet next to the shed.  I unwrapped it and began feeding from it and then covered it with a tarp.  It is good quality and so far it has shown to be easy to load my hay barrels with.  The ponies are loving it.

Note – getting the one into the shed and the other next to it was NOT easy since we do not have a tractor to help.  Its all man power (picture me flexing my arm and kissing my non existent bicep).


Today I was talking on the phone to my mom, while loading up a tub with hay to carry out to put into a hay barrel, and the round bale slipped off its pallet and rolled down a ways from the shed.  I laughed.  So did my mom.



This is the end of the first round bale, and how I get they hay out to the field (with Poe looking on).  I load they hay, heaping, into a clean muck tub, and then carry it out to the hay barrels to fill them.


The first two round bales took be about 1 1/2 weeks (lets say 10 days) each to use and were supposed to be around 800lbs each.

I was feeding about 2 square bales a day, so about 20 squares in 10 days, at $4ea, was $80.

I fed heavier with the round bales since the temperatures had dropped so much.  Probably about 2 1/2-3 square bales worth a day, lets say 23 bales @$4 = $92.


When I called for more rounds the guy was out.  So we picked up some more squares from our regular guy.  He was out of the $4 bales so we picked up 18 $4.50 bales = $81 (the trailer was snowed in so it was all Rich could fit on his truck). Good quality hay, but the bales were really small.  I was a little disappointed.  Those lasted 10 days.

Friday February 27th

Next I found a round bale for $60.  We had to go pick this one up, and our trailer was snowed in again so we took Rich’s Tacoma.  I’ll get into how that was a very bad idea later in this post.  This bale was not near as good.  It was just mowed meadow, the outer two layers were moldy, wet and gross and had to be trashed.  Inside was dry and clean but it was just an assortment of pasture grasses including some clover, and nothing really nutritious.  I was pretty disappointed in it. This bale lasted 10 days.

The story

Picking up this bale seemed so easy.  It was about a 30 minute easy drive.  The guy dropped the bale into the bed of our truck with a tractor, onto its rounded side, butt ends facing the tail gate and the truck cab.  Note that as the first mistake.  We drove home, arriving after dark, and backed right up to the wood shed where we planned to place the bale.  This is an uphill situation, with the truck cab facing down hill and the bale needing to move against gravity to be deposited into the shed.  This is when we realized, we had no easy way to unload the bale.  We pushed and pulled, and then tied a rope around it, tying the rope ends to the shed and tried to slowly drive out from under it, which just snapped the rope.  No surprise there, but we figured we would try it.

We turned the truck around, and tried leveraging the hay out with gravity to our advantage.  No luck.

Then we decided to use truck on truck action and tied a thicker rope around the bale, and to the hitch of my bigger truck.  I slowly drove forward, and the bale began to rock up and out, and then the smaller truck with the bale in it started to be drug by my bigger truck.  This is when Rich realized that the bale, which is wider than the opening of his truck’s bed’s tailgate, which was wet, had frozen during our drive home.  He whipped out an axe and went at the corners of the bale.  And yes, I laughed really hard, but really quietly, and walked around my truck to hide myself from Rich so he wouldn’t see me cracking up.  I really wanted to take a photo of all this craziness, but I figured having my husband speak to me later was worth more than a few photos.  As you can probably guess, he was not having the time of his life here.  And I do remember getting told off for “not being upset”.

With the frozen corners chopped off, we gave it another pull with my truck and got it most of the way up on its butt end, and part way out of the bed.  The we climbed into the bed behind the bale and Rich, using a lever, and me pushing, we dislodged the bale, which flipped and rolled, almost to my truck, stopping just short, in the middle of our parking area, quite a distance from the horse field.

This is when Rich noticed that the bale had actually bent the frame of his bed, leaning the top of each side out slightly.  It also bent the medal where the tailgate latches are.  He managed to fix it, but he has assured me we will never use his truck again for round bale pick up.  As if that needed to be spoken aloud.

Wednesday March  11, 2015
That last round bale was good for a bale you put in the field for them to free feed from, but not to be their main sustenance.  Looking for some quality, I headed back to my regular square bale guy.  It was muddy and he didn’t think I could get my trailer in and out, so I went to see what we could fit in my truck.  I drive a Toyota Tundra, 4 door with a cap.  With the tail gate down, cap on, and 3bales stuffed into the backseat, we fit 22 bales.  Not bad.  and the quality of this hay was great.  Really great.

The ponies had a little of the yellow round bale left in their barrels, and I topped them off with the fresh green hay.  The next morning I found they had eaten all the new hay and left the old hay.  No surprise.

The grass is starting to peep up nice and green, and I am hoping I can get in one more trailer load of square bales and hope that adding in some grazing soon will hold me over until first cutting.


Hay Trial Break Down

$92 squares ($9.20/day) for 10 days

$50 round ($5/day) for 10 days

$81 squares ($8.10/day) for 10 days

$60 round ($6/day) for 10 days

$110 squares $5 a bale. 


Conclusion – if you want to call it that.

I have decided that I like round bales, and that if I can get quality round bales, like the first ones I got, they are worth it.  Round certainly saves some funds, but it also adds some work (assuming its not just for free feeding and stuck out in the field – then its easy).  Ill probably continue to use both round and square.  And I am interested to see how my feeding works out this summer.  Being in a new location, with different fields switches stuff up.  And since we moved the ponies at the start of September, and still do not have the big grass field fenced in yet, I am sure next winter will still be a new feeding situation.  Regardless, I plan to stock up on some hay this summer.








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