How Should Round Balage Bales or Dry Hay be Stored?

Published 4th July 2017

There’s two ways your bales can be stacked for storage until winter feeding, which can have substantial impact on the quality of the forage and storage losses. Read on to discover the pro’s and con’s of each way…

Why is it important?

We all know how much it costs to make hay or balage. Very often the prime cause of crop spoilage is poorly stored bales. Following these basic storage principles can have a huge impact on the quality of the forage in the bale by the time it comes to feed them to your cattle. These principles can also save a lot of time and frustration during feedout.

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Balage Bales (Individually Wrapped) 

Balage bales (Baled Silage) are sometimes referred to as baleage, haylage or even wet hay in some parts of the globe, and when stored correctly the fed silage can be of better quality, with less wastage than pit or clamp silage, although costs more to produce. This makes it important to store correctly. 

A high-quality crop, good quality bale wrap, and top notch wrapping system will have been wasted if the bales are not handled, stacked and stored correctly or left in an unsuitable environment.

Stored on Round

Stored on flat

Storing bales on their rounds is not recommended for stacking higher than one layer. Stacking in more than one layer badly deforms bales, avoiding the seal on the film overlap opening through the constant heavy pressure, which can cause secondary fermentation of the silage reducing nutritional value of the feed and encourages mould growth. Deformed bales are more labour intensive to feed out. Bales stacked on their round are more prone to puncturing due to less wrap in the rounds than the flat, especially when stored on concrete surfaces. 

Storing on the ends is the recommended choice, because the bales have up to 4x more wrap on the ends than the sides, which provides better protection from puncturing, an improved ensiling process and  more nutrition. Bales that hold their shape are easier to feed out, safer for transporting. It is recommended to stack heavier bales with a higher moisture content in one layer. And a maximum of up to 3 layers for dryer bales.


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  • Store in a well‐drained site for easy pick up in winter and wet periods. Close to feeding area
  • Store on smooth surface free of rubble and trash
  • Stacking saves room, stack no more than 3 bales high
  • Store round bales on flat end = more plastic, less “squish”
  • Avoid stacking at high moisture
  • Patch holes promptly
  • Store close to feeding area


Never use bale spears that puncture the bale wrap.

Care should be used when transporting and stacking bales to minimize damage and deformation. Using a set of Softhands® that have been designed to do both stacking/unstacking and handling can save costly damage. Most bale handlers or bale clamps are designed for handling bales, but choose a bale handler wisely because some can damage adjacent bales when picking or stacking. 


Hustler’s unique Softhands hand design eliminates bale deformation while handling bales with equal pressure, so that it doesn’t over-stretch wrapping causing spoiling of the balage. 


Hustler's new 8 ton trailer in action... built tough... to handle these 12x silage bales with ease-694891-edited.jpg When transporting bales from the field to the stack, it’s even more important to transport them on their flats, once again for the advantage of 4x the wrap on the flats compared to the side, because they’re less vulnerable to damage caused by any movement during transporting the bales, when stacked on their flat.   This also makes for a more stable load, which is easier to tie down tight. Using a Hustler tip trailer, with the folding head board can make the job easier.

Dry Hay Bales – 

Ultimately if you’re making dry hay it wants to be stored in a barn or under a shelter in order to minimise wastage from weathering. Now not every farm has the luxury of enough barn storage for all their hay, so often compromises have to be made. Although dry hay deteriorates less than bad storing of balage, nutritional losses of dry hay stored outside can amount to as much as 44% of the bale! The cost of this waste can go a long way towards the cost of covering your bales.

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The best storage method varies for bales stored outside to those in a barn.

When storing bales outside without a cover it is best to store on their rounds, because the netwrap provides the best protection you have, and partially acts as a cover to help shed water. Storing in a barn is the ultimate solution, and it is recommended to stack bales on their flats when using open sided barns, as the netwrap provide the best weather protection to reduce damage. 
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When storing bales outside, a cover such as a trap can be used as a low cost alternative to reducing waste due to weathering, but is a labour intensive chore. When using a cover, it is recommended to store bales on their flats to protect the bales from any weather exposure.

An important tip is to cover the ground, prior to stacking, to stop the bottom layer of bales from soaking up the moisture from the ground.

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Handling Dry Hay Bales

When handling round net-wrapped dry hay bales, it is important to choose a bale handler with plenty of clamping power, because the net-wrap is slippery and with not enough power you’ll find yourself dropping a few bales. That’s why Hustler built the Mega Softhands with more clamping force and larger hands than any other bale grab, so you don’t drop a bale.