Hay bales come in two shapes: square and round. If you’re wondering how many square bales can fit inside a round bale, here’s the information you need. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between square and round bales, the benefits of round hay bales, and tips for handling large round bales of hay.
Table of Contents
Square Bales Vs. Round Bales: 5 Key Differences
When it comes to hay bales, there are some key differences between square and round bales that you should know. Firstly, the shape sets them apart. Square bales are, as the name suggests, square in shape, while round bales are cylindrical or round in shape.
Size is another important distinction. Square bales are much smaller and more compact compared to round bales. A standard square bale of hay measures 14 inches in height, 18 inches in width, and 36 inches in length. On the other hand, round bales can be quite large, with a diameter of about 4 feet and a height of 5 feet. Round hay bales can weigh anywhere from 500 to 1200 lbs!
Another difference lies in the construction process. Square bales are made by compacting hay into individual “flakes” and tying them together using twine. Round bales, on the other hand, are created using specialized machinery that rolls up flattened layers of grass and binds them together with netting. Unrolling an entire round bale can be beneficial when feeding large herds.
When it comes to feeding, square bales are often given one or two flakes at a time, while round bales are placed in feeders for free feeding. Both types of bales are incompatible with feed bags.
In terms of cost and availability, round bales generally have a lower cost per pound of hay compared to square bales. This is due to the more efficient production and handling processes involved.
What Are the Benefits of Round Hay Bales?
So, why do many horse owners choose to make round hay bales? Firstly, they are cost-effective. Round bales are cheaper to make compared to square bales, which is always a bonus!
Secondly, round bales are easier to handle. They can be rolled or pushed around, so you don’t need to be super strong to move them.
Lastly, round bales take up less space. Their shape and density make them space-savers. You can stack them up nicely or store them outside (but make sure to protect them from the weather!). If you have limited storage space, round bales are a smart choice.
How Many Square Hay Bales Fit in a Round Hay Bale?
The number of square bales that can fit in a round bale of hay varies depending on the size and density of both bale types. According to experiences shared by our community of horse owners, a round bale can usually hold anywhere from 10 to 25 square bales. However, it’s important to go by weight whenever possible, as factors such as the type of hay, quality of hay, and drying practices can affect the amount of edible, nutritionally rich hay in each large round bale.
6 Tips for Handling Large Round Bales of Hay
To ensure safe and efficient handling of large round bales, follow these tips:
Use proper equipment: Invest in equipment designed for handling round bales, such as bale spears, bale forks, or bale grabs. These attachments are specifically designed to secure and transport round bales safely.
Assess bale stability: Before moving a round bale, check its stability. Ensure that the bale is tightly wrapped and not loose or sagging, as loose bales are more likely to collapse during handling.
Use a reliable tractor: Make sure you have a tractor with enough horsepower and hydraulic capacity to handle the weight of the round bales. Using an underpowered lawn tractor can destabilize the tractor.
Secure the bales properly: Use the appropriate attachments to secure the bale firmly to the loader or spear. Ensure that the bale is centered and balanced to prevent tipping or shifting during transport.
Be cautious during transport: When moving round bales, drive slowly and avoid sudden turns or movements. Pay attention to any obstacles or uneven terrain that may affect stability.
Store bales properly: After moving the round bales to the desired location, store them on a flat, well-drained surface away from moisture or standing water. Proper storage minimizes waste and helps maintain the hay’s quality and nutritional value over time.
For more insights on round bale storage, keep reading!
More on Round Bale Storage
Round bales of hay are often stored outside on the ground. While this is the cheapest method, it can lead to significant waste due to weathering. Moisture tends to accumulate at the bottom of the bale where there is less air movement.
To reduce waste and keep your horsekeeping costs down, you can use poles, pallets, tires, crushed rock, or other materials to separate the bale from the wet soil below. According to the University of Kentucky, this can reduce losses by up to 38%. Wrapping round bales with plastic sheets can further reduce waste to just 7%, although indoor storage is more sustainable and less harmful to the environment. Round bales stored indoors lose about 15% of their mass to waste.
Proper storage is essential to preserve the quality and nutritional value of your hay over time.
In conclusion, square and round bales have their own characteristics and benefits. Whether you prefer the compactness of square bales or the efficiency of round bales, both play a vital role in feeding horses!
For more information on hay bales and other horse care topics, visit 5 WS, your trusted source for reliable horse care information.
Research sources used for this article:
- Collins, M., Ditsch, D., Henning, J. C., Turner, L. W., Isaacs, S., & Lacefield, G. D. (1997). Round bale hay storage in Kentucky. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Lexington, and Kentucky State University, Frankfort.
- Belyea, R. L., Martz, F. A., & Bell, S. (1985). Storage and feeding losses of large round bales. Journal of Dairy Science, 68(12), 3371-3375.