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Storing Hay

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Becknutt

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Today I purchased a bale of hay (114lbs) for the same price as the 48oz bag is at the pet store. I talked to the lady at the feed store about storing it and she advised me it would keep for a year or more if kept in a dry covered patio in a trashbag with the top open. I came home and looked online for more advice and I came accross this.



"Hi Housebunner!

I wanted to add to what I explained some time ago about hay storage.
If you recall I discussed how it was cut, cured, baled, and generally
stored. Well, something just kept bugging me about the whole business.
I can't remember the person's name, but they emailed me privately with
additional questions. (Thanks to that person, by the way!) One of the
questions went something like this, "Why is it that my bunny isn't very
interested in the last bit of hay at the bottom of the bag but when I
open a new bag she dives right in?" My first response was that it
stands to reason that it was going stale after the bag was openned.

Well, the more I thought about it the less that make sense. So, I
called an expert on the subject... my
baling_hay_for_the_last_20_years_farmer Dad. I asked him what the best
way to store hay was, given not having access to a luxurious barn loft.
He gave me the following "do's and don'ts".

Do: Store the hay in a well ventalated dry storage area. This could be
indoors or outdoors, in garages and the like, and even in apartment
sheds (like the one off my back patio.) It's fine to be exposed to
humidity as long as it's well ventalated (remember the barn analogy?)

Don't: Store the hay in plastic. Plastic draws moisture which causes
mold and rot. Plastic could be a garbage bag or even a trash bin with
or without a lid. He said don't use either. Also, if you buy hay from
pet stores in those plastic bags, get it out of there into a wooden or
cardboard box- something that breathes.

Don't: Store hay on concrete or directly on the ground. Again, this
draws moisture causing mold and rot.

Don't: Break up the bale if you don't have to. Even when kept in
perfect conditions the outside of a bale will discolor a bit (to the
lighter side). However, when it is broken open to feed, the center will
be just as fresh as when it was baled.

Do: Try to find a hay source for bales of hay. If you can drive a bit
and see horses or cows somewhere near you, then there is a hay source.
He said to go up and knock on doors to see if you could by a bale once
or twice a year. (Although, I'm a little nervous about possibly
knocking and finding a shot gun in my nose- think I'll call first.)

He said he's fed 15 year old hay right beside hay that was less than 1
year old. The cows went for the 15 year old stuff first and only after
that was gone did they start eating the significantly younger stuff.

Anything kept on wood (or in a wooden crate) should be fine. Remember,
a hay loft floor is made of wood. (I'd still keep it off the concrete,
just to be sure.)

What I did was stuff the half bale I had into an old rabbit cage I had
and stacked it on something in my storage shed. If it rots, I'll let
you know. The cage is galvanized and has a pull out pan at the bottom
so it has 100% ventalation on all sides. The door acts as a hay bin
openning. I asked about the shed heating up in the summer sun. He said
that should help cure the hay even more.

Lori asked me about bugs. I remember getting bit and seeing bugs on my
way _to_ the barn. However, the only thing I really saw *in* the hay
was the occasional barn snake and an expected spider or two. Besides
that, rabbits are vegetarians I doubt they'd eat them ;) I want to say
that the dried grass hay shouldn't draw bugs. There are other things in
your house that would draw bugs first. Luckily, I'm fortunate enough to
have a frog living in my shed, so I may never know. If it becomes
portly in the oncoming weeks, I'll let you know."

How do you store your hay? This bale will easily last me a year and I would like to waste as little as possible. Even if I only used 1/2 it will still have saved me a lot of money. From what I read above I'm thinking I may have to find a cardboard box big enough or get a wood box of some sort.

 

Leaf

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, Missouri, USA
I have 37lbs sitting in a box in my dining room right now. Its packed so tightly, the box isn't huge at all.

I've considered storing it in some big pet taxis I have, but now I'm not sure since they are plastic, though they are pretty well open for air flow.
 

iluvmybuns

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A giant massive rubbermaid container.....you might need 2 for a whole bale unless you're a really good smoosher;)

But I love it cause it doesn't smell like hay all the time anymore
 

KimandCocoa

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, Ohio, USA
Oh no - no plastic bags? That's always how I store my hay. The hay I get from Bunny Bales comes in a plastic bag and I keep it like that because I figured it stayed the cleanest that way. So I should put the hay in a box instead?
 

aurora369

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I have a medium sized rubber maid for storing a useable amount of hay inside, and the rest is outside in a large "deck bin". My outside bin fits about a bale and a half while my inside bin fits about a quarter of a bale.

This is my outside bin:
http://rubbermaid.com/rubbermaid/ecommerce/product.jhtml?prodId=HpdProd190059&catId=HpdCat190054

And this is my inside bin:
http://rubbermaid.com/rubbermaid/product/product.jhtml?prodId=HPProd100182#

The system has worked well for me, as my boyfriend is allergic to hay, so I can't keep the bulk of it inside. My hay hasn't gone bad and my buns still tuck right into their hay.

--Dawn
 

naturestee

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My hay is stored in my garage. Two huge cardboard boxes from when I used to order 50 lbs of Oxbow hay, and one big rubbermaid container with no lid so it still gets good air flow. Each one holds a 40 lb bale, more or less. I keep small amounts from those bales in the closet in my bunny room, in those reusable grocery bags you can buy. That way I have a small supply at hand right by the bunnies, enough to fill up everyone's hay racks once or twice. Then I refill them from the bales in the garage.
 

Becknutt

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I ended up deciding to use the wooden dog house we have in the backyard (the dog is never out there anyway). I got about 1/2 stuffed in there...and the other half right now is in a thick contractors trash bag, and I cut small slits in the bag to allow air in for now until I can find something else to put it in...
 

CheyAutRanch

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I go through roughly 40-45 bales of hay a month, so I don't have storage issues (I have lots of horses!). But I do agree that you want ventilation for the hay. My hay is outside in a "stall" made of pipe corral panels (but no front panel) and completely covered by a metal roof (I have a bunch of these stalls in a row under my LOOONG roof, this one happened to not have a front so I thought it would be the perfect hay storage area ;)). Then the hay is stacked so that it can "breath" on top of wood pallets. But yes, hay should be somewhere it can "breath" Oh and the nutritional value does decrease over time, but not so much that I would worry about it (unless it lasts you years).

Jessi
 
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