When pastures are insufficient to provide for the livestock to graze, the only way left to go is to feed through hay and grains. Most farmers, ranchers, or buyers struggle with the exact weight measurement of a round bale of hay. Especially, when farmers or vendors have a customer who asks how much does a round hay bale weigh?
Knowing bale weight is just not crucial for buying or selling hay but also for determining on-farm inventories. However, knowing the exact weight is complicated and most buyers and sellers have struggled with it. Hay bales are available in two basic shapes i.e round and square.
By far, the most popular bale shape is round and this type of bale started to appear on fields about 40 years ago. Cattle or horses are fed hay in terms of pounds instead of a number of bales. Therefore, there is no escape; the buyer has to know the weight before purchasing the lot.
Some sellers say the weight is so and so for each bale instead of actually weighing it, so, buyers should weigh on the scale available in the feed store. Do not worry, we will give you a detailed answer regarding this but first we’d like you to know about hay and its composition.
What Is Hay?
Hay is composed of legumes, dried, cut grass, and other plants that provide the best alternative to pasture with all the essential nutrients. It is used as a food source for cattle, sheep, horses, goats, guinea pigs, and rabbits. Hay is compressed to form bales. Following categories of hay are available to feed
- In most parts of the world, Grass hays usually include timothy, bluegrass, Bermuda, orchard grass, brome, ryegrass, reed canary, and fescue grass.
- Common legumes include birdsfoot, cowpeas, soybean, alfalfa, trefoil, lespedeza, and several types of clover.
- Other hay grass categories include cereal grain crops and mixed grass and legume.
Read guide on What is a Flake of Hay
How Much Does Round Hay Bale Weigh?
Generally, hay bales can weigh anywhere between 40 lbs to 2000 lbs. If we are talking specifically about round hay bales, these bales are quite large in size and weight from 600 lbs to 1200 lbs. Easier handling and transportation is the lead cause of the popularity of round bales.
Do not just rely on the numbers mentioned above as the weight and diameter vary from bale to bale.
Weight fluctuates in size and density. Hay bales are formed by putting hay in the compression chamber of the baler, the machine compresses, ties, and packs the hay in a specified dimension.
Weight is the least bit of concern when making bales. No focus and attention is given to the bale weight neither the machine is programmed to do so. The only way to know the exact weight of the bale of hay is to measure it through a weighing scale not estimating hay bales in the field.
One other factor that determines the weight and is worth mentioning, is the moisture content. Moisture content in a hay bale affects the weight greatly. Size, density, and moisture content, with all these determining factors it is difficult to produce hay bales with identical weight.
Round Hay Bales Weight
As is established earlier, hay bales come in multiple sizes carrying different weights. Round hay bales are also available in different sizes, from small to large. Here is a general guideline as to the round hay bale weight as per the size and dimension (Width x Height).
- Small Round Hay Bale – Small round hay bale is usually bought by farmers with fewer animals to feed. Even though the Small size is added to the name it still provides sufficient hay. A small size bale of hay with 4 ft x 4 ft (W x H) dimensions usually weighs about 400 lbs to 600 lbs.
- Medium Round Hay Bale – Medium-sized round hay bale is larger in size and heavier in weight than the small ones. A 5 ft x 4.5 ft medium round bale of hay would range in weight from 720 lbs to 950 lbs.
- Large Round Hay Bale – Large round hay bale is sufficient to feed plenty of livestock because of the size and weight. Heavier than the small and medium, a 5 ft x 6 ft round bale of hay weighs around 1270 lbs to 1700 lbs. (source)
Factors Influencing The Round Hay Bale
There are different factors that influence round hay bales’ weight as discussed earlier. Even if the hay bales are of the same size, they would still weigh differently. A buyer prioritizes two things before buying the hay bale; weight and easier handling (less storage space).
Sometimes, the quality of hay is also not up to the mark and expensive as well. Some hay types contain harmful chemicals and additives that affect animal’s health gradually.
Let’s discuss these factors one by one
Size is considered when buying a hay bale. One assesses how big the bale is and how much does it weigh. Most farmers try to analyze weight by looking at it. However, it would be most likely inaccurate as often the same size bales have different weights.
Buy hay by weight not by the bale size, it may be a hard bargain or transaction, however, if you successfully managed to do it, you have got yourself a good deal.
Density plays an important role in determining the weight of the bale. If the bale is denser, it would weigh more. It is greatly affected by how the bale is made, how much compression is applied. The tightness and compression used to create a hay bale affect the weight.
A tightly compressed hay bale is heavier than the loose one. Most balers ask for preferences to facilitate customizable settings. Whereas, others offer ways to compress tighter than standard equipment.
We have listed a few types of hay grass species above, each has a different plantation method, fertilization techniques, maturity, and weight. So, each forage type varies in weight.
It may be the most overlooked and lesser-known factor but it affects the bale weight greatly. Forage maturity affects the density of the hay. As the plant begins to mature with age, its fiber content increases, making it less dense.
The moisture content of hay affects the weight when it is gone through the baling process. Haymaker’s fluff the cut grass to let it evenly dry before making bales. Bailing at the correct moisture level will help preserve the nutritional value.
The ideal moisture content for the square and the round bale is 22% and 18% respectively to prevent hay mold and overheating. Hay bale includes a percentage of the moisture weight.
Moisture levels can increase or decrease the bale weight. In simple words, the higher the moisture level the heavier the weight. For instance, a bale weighing 100 pounds when put in a drying oven to remove moisture, the weight is reduced to 80 lbs. It is concluded that the bale had a 20% moisture level.
Putting it all together, determining a bale weight is complicated than anticipated, the only sure way to know is to weigh it on the weighing scale. Even bales having the same sizes have different weights owing to a number of factors.