How To Store Hay Bales Outside

Sheds are always great to have, but they can be expensive and not everyone can afford them.

But if you want to have animals like sheep and cows, you do not need a shed to be able to store their food.

You can simply store their food, in this case hay bales, outside.

So how do you store hay bales outside? Simply find a place close to where your animals will be spending their time, store your bales in an organized way, cover the bales carefully, and always make sure there is plenty of room for circulation.

Read on for more tips on how to store your hay bales outside.

Why store the food outside

Having a shed can be nice and convenient for storing hay bales.

You will not have to worry about the rain or other inclement weather.

And most of the time, you do not have to worry about critters getting into the food, as long as you put traps around.

But having a place to store your hay bales inside is not always feasible.

You might have to have time and money to get a shed if you do not already have one.

Which is why a lot of people store their hay bales outside.

Storing you hay bales is a great way to keep your hay bales safe and well circulated.

Keep in mind the following when considering where you should store your hay bales.

Store the food near the animals you are going to feed

Instead of purchasing an expensive shed to store the food, you can actually purchase more of the food and keep it outside.

Besides the cost, storing the food outside means that you can store it wherever you want.

This includes near the animals you are feeding it to.

Some sheds on the property you are going to buy are not in the most convenient place to where you are feeding your animals.

Storing the food outside allows you to place the food where you are going to feed the animals.

Then you do not have to worry about transporting it over long distances just to feed your animals.

Also, when storing hay bales inside, you have to take into account how flammable the bales are.

If your hay bales start on fire in your shed, it will not take long for the fire to move from the hay bales to the structure of your shed.

You would also have to consider anything near the hay bales that might cause it to catch on fire.

This would include items such as farm machinery and accelerants like gas.

Storing hay bales outside removes most of these worries, though the outside is not 100% fireproof.

Store the bales in an organized way

If you are going to store your bales outside, first you will want to store them in an organized way.

Figure out how much hay you want and then figure out how high you might want your bales to go.

Also take into account where you are going to actually store the hay.

Make sure when you stack them so that you store the bales at least a few bales deep.

That will protect the bales on the inside of the pile.

Also, make sure that the hay bales on the outside have some room to get good circulation.

When it rains or snows, the hay bales are going to get wait, guaranteed.

You can cover the hay bales with lots of tarps, but they are almost certainly going to get some moisture on them.

The good thing about hay bales is even if they get a little wet, a good little breeze will dry the hay bales right out.

So make sure that the outer hay bales have some room to breathe so they can dry out in case of rain.

When you are ready to stack your hay bales, make sure the string side is always facing up.

This will make it easier to remove the string when you are ready to start feeding your animals with that hay bale.

Also, make sure that you alternate the orientation of the hay bales.

If the first row has the hay bales facing long ways parallel to you, the second row should have the long ways perpendicular to you.

And leave a little bit of space between each hay bale.

It does not need to be a lot of space, maybe a few inches.

This space will allow some air circulation between each hay bale, in case any bales get wet or need to dry some more.

Lastly, stack the hay bales in a pyramid shape.

This means the bottom row should have the most hay bales.

The next row up should have fewer hay bales.

The next fewer, and so on.

Once you get to the top, there should only be a few hay bales left.

This will make it easier to get hay bales from the top, but also helps with moisture, as we will discuss in the next section.

Cover it with a tarp

You will also want to make sure that you cover the top with a tarp.

If the hay bales get too wet on the top, they will never dry out and will eventually get enough mildew that you will have to throw out those hay bales.

So get a good tarp and put it over the top.

According to

If fully outdoors, cover stacks of square bales (large or small) with tarps, securing the tarps with strong tie-downs. A sloped top, created by pyramiding the final layers, sheds snow and rain better than a flat one. Use strong, sturdy tarps free of holes or rips. Check tarps on a regular basis to make sure they’re securely tied down.

How To Store Hay To Make It Last – Hobby Farms

Stick maybe one or two hay bales at the very top of your pile before you put the tarp on.

This will give the pile a nice slope at the top so rain and snow will glide right off the top to the ground.

The tarp also protects the hay bales from the sun.

Exposure to too much sun can bleach the hay and cause it to lose some of its nutritional value.

Keep it elevated off the ground

Besides moisture coming from above, you also have to worry about moisture coming up from the ground.

Putting the hay bales directly onto the ground will cause the hay to soak up the moisture from the ground.

So whatever you do, do not place your hay bales directly on the ground.

You have a lot of options as to how to avoid placing the hay bales directly on the ground.


Instead of directly on the ground, spread out gravel on the ground until you get a nice thick layer of gravel (2 to 3 inches at least).

Once the gravel has been placed, you can stack the hay bales on top of the gravel.

The gravel will then protect the hay bales from any moisture in the ground and will elevate them.


Most of the time you can find pallets at either a cheap value or for free.

Gather up some pallets and place them on the ground where you want to place the hay bales.

Then start stacking.

The pallets give you just enough space so that the hay bales are not directly on the ground.

Plus, the space between the wood in the pallets gives you good air circulation for underneath the hay bales.

You would not get this breeze with gravel.

A few other tips

Get rid of moldy hay bales

If a hay bale seems unusually heavy, take off the string to get to the middle of the hay bale.

By the time you get to the middle, you should be able to tell if the hay bale is wet or gives off a bad smell.

If you experience either of these, get rid of the hay bale immediately.

Accidentally feeding moldy hay to horses or other animals could lead to serious problems for those animals.

Move older hay bales to the front

Most of the time you will be purchasing new hay before you run out of your current hay.

If this is the case, move the older hay bales to the front.

That way, you get the hay to your animals before it goes bad.

It may take a little more effort to move the older hay bales to the front, but it is worth it.


Make sure you stack your hay bales in a pyramid shape, with very few hay bales at the top.

Make sure the hay bales are stacked off of the ground and that there is enough space between each bale, so there is good air circulation.

And make sure to cover your hay bales with a tarp so they don’t get covered in rain and snow.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

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